Given the Weather Channel’s reputation for occasional attention-seeking that includes unnecessarily naming storms and focusing on fun Internet articles instead of providing useful meteorological information, you have to wonder about the station’s new strategy in resolving a dispute with DirecTV. The Weather Channel’s contract with the satellite provider expires Monday if a new deal is not reached. So, ahead of its appearance at the Television Critics Association conference, the Weather Channel launched a campaign to urge viewers to “contact their congressional reps to intervene [in the matter] or else DirecTV would take away ‘its critical weather programming,’” causing a “public safety issue.” (There’s also a whole website dedicated to the effort.)
When asked whether it is fair to “declare [the Weather Channel] a public utility,” network head David Clark replied, “Absolutely. And I’m not kidding. 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.” (And by “trusted source,” he probably did not mean a channel called WeatherNation, which has apparently been appearing right next to Weather Channel on DirecTV’s line-up in recent weeks.) But if Clark really wants to keep his 20 million DirectTV viewers, he might want to remind them that the Weather Channel is the one that employs Sam Champion.