“The Weather Channel isn’t just another TV network. It is a must-have resource that keeps families safe,” TWC wrote on its website. A letter from the station’s well-known meteorologist, Jim Cantore, accuses DirecTV of “deny[ing] their viewers access to critical and potentially life-saving information in times of severe weather.”
The station even went so far as to urge its fans to write or call their Congressional representatives.
TWC was dropped by DirecTV on Jan. 14 due to a dispute over fees the satellite provider pays to carry The Weather Channel. This has become a regular occurrence between stations and cable or satellite providers; usually the two sides settle as viewers decry the loss of a favorite channel.
But the dispute between TWC and DirecTV is certainly climbing to the upper echelon of rancor. And while The Weather Channel’s argument seems ludicrous on its face—this is, after all, the station that devotes as much airtime to eccentric people setting themselves on fire as it does reporting about actual weather—it appears to be resonating.
“The Weather Channel help prepare me for Hurricane Sandy,” wrote a viewer. “Without The Weather Channel, I wouldn't have made it through the storm.”
“TWC is a life-saving necessity for those of us who are in potential danger each year for 6 months of tropical storms,” another posted.
No word yet if Congress is being inundated with letters from terrified Americans who forgot they can get a weather report from their local TV or radio station.
The reality is that viewers are nodding at TWC’s claim not because they actually believe it, but because it serves their desire to get back a cherished TV channel. Like previous contract disputes, this one will be settled because viewers demand it, not because of any clear and present (weather) danger.