The Weather Channel’s Apocalyptic Gameplan…
Deadline’s Lisa De Moraes writes about the silly little display that went on today at the TCA concerning The Weather Channel…
A major storm rained down on Winter TV Press Tour 2014 this morning when The Weather Channel took the stage to blast DirectTV over their current carriage dispute. In anticipation of the channel’s appearance before a couple hundred journalists at the tour, it issued an ominous campaign late last night warning viewers they needed to contact their congressional reps to intervene, or else DirecTV would take away “its critical weather programming,” calling it a “public safety issue.”
TV critics at the press tour weren’t entirely drinking The Weather Channel’s Kool-aid. One critic noted TWC is a successful company owned by a big corporation, asking “Is it fair to declare it a public utility?” in what’s really a business dispute.
DirecTV Weather channel“Absolutely. And I’m not kidding,” Weather Channel president David Clark responded ominously. “If you’ve ever been in a severe weather situation and you need to make a decision to protect your family and you need to make it fast” you need “to know your information comes from a trusted source… We have a mission to serve that we take seriously. Don’t think you can stand a fly-by-night alternative to that,” he said, warning “you’re going to be putting your audience at risk.”
What utter claptrap. 10-15 years ago you could make a slightly more plausible argument about The Weather Channel’s place as a go to destination in a crisis. But today we have the internet. We have local TV which gets served by companies like Accuweather. We have radio. We have cable news. We have the nightly newscasts. We have apps you can download to your smartphone. We have many choices…all as good as the Weather Channel.
What this campaign really amounts to is a scare tactic…but one without much teeth. The Weather Channel is trying to scare the public into thinking that they’re about to lose a resource they can’t get anywhere else. If…if…The Weather Channel was about to drop off all providers at once you might be in a better place to make that argument. But this is just one operator.
And that’s why this is such a big deal. The Weather Channel fears what could happen next if DirecTV prevails either by dropping the channel or by successfully negotiating a more restrained financial carriage agreement…that this will be the first of many dominoes that could fall against it as more carriage agreements come up for renewal down the road.
Thus the semi-apocalyptic statements coming from The Weather Channel. It knows what’s at stake. It’s in a battle for relevance…in heated competition with a multitude of perfectly acceptable weather forecasting options. In other words, it’s in a fight for its very existence.