So here’s what’s been happening. DirecTV and The Weather Channel have been going at it for a weeks now regarding the price The Weather Channel wants to charge per customer. The whole thing came to a head last week when no deal had been reached by the deadline, and the satellite provider dropped The Weather Channel and replaced it with a Dollar Store competitor called WeatherNation.
Since then the two have been snipping at each other pretty much non-stop, with The Weather Channel puffing out its chest and acting as though its a vital public resource like the fire department or something, and DirecTV replying with mean little digs like “Consumers understand there are now a variety of other ways to get weather coverage, free of reality show clutter, and that The Weather Channel does not have an exclusive on weather coverage — the weather belongs to everyone.” It’s really been a tremendous piece of theater. I hope it ends up on Broadway.
And after today, it might, as The Weather Channel released a hilarious statement (posted below) that it ran in newspapers across the country and posted on its website. Essentially, The Weather Channel has been rabble-rousing since the deadline to get people to complain and try to cancel their DirecTV subscriptions, and now they’re saying DirecTV should drop everyone’s cancellation fee because — and this is in bold in the letter — “Fairness ought to trump the ﬁne print in your contracts.” Oh, and just to the right of the letter on the website is a picture of DirecTV CEO Mike White with the caption “He can waive your fee,” like each complaint goes directly to his desk. Just a masterful bit of shameless manipulation.
What say you, DirecTV?
“The Weather Channel is so used to dramatizing the weather, they may have lost all sense of reality,” DirecTV’s Robert Mercer fired back.
FROM THE TOP ROPE.
Honestly, at this point I don’t even care which side wins. One is an evil faceless corporation and the other is a self-important hyperbole machine that actually started naming winter storms things like Electra and Hercules this year. It’s hard to root for either of them. I just want them to keep fighting forever.
January 22, 2014
Mr. Michael D. White
Chairman, CEO and President
Just before midnight on January 13, DIRECTV customers lost access to The Weather Channel.
Since then, over 4 million customers have come to keeptheweatherchannel.com to express their frustration. Over 400,000 have called and emailed DIRECTV. And over 90,000 have pledged to switch providers.
Many thousands have called your customer service centers asking to terminate their contracts since they are now getting less content for the same price. But DIRECTV is threatening them with termination fees of $200 to $400.
We have heard from viewers across the country, like Heather in Texas who wrote, “We just signed on with DIRECTV.…Had I known this was going to happen I would NOT have signed up. I read the ﬁne print (too late) and found that they can do that. It’s wrong.”
We agree. Fairness ought to trump the ﬁne print in your contracts.
The decision to switch providers is never taken lightly. Those who are trying to do so clearly believe The Weather Channel is a valued resource for their families. They are people like @jlawson2011, who tweeted “The Weather Channel saved my life when there was severe weather in my area. Tornado imminent + TWC warning to hide.”
These viewers—your customers—value the fact that since 1982 The Weather Channel has been relying upon the National Weather Service for watches and warnings, which we deliver on a hyper-local basis through our proprietary localization technology.
Your customers were never given a vote about DIRECTV’s decision to drop The Weather Channel. The least you can do is allow them to vote now with their feet by waiving termination fees for those seeking to switch to a provider that still carries The Weather Channel, as every other pay-TV company in the nation does.
Our preference would be for DIRECTV to come back to the negotiating table and restore The Weather Channel to your line up. But as you seem intent on proving a point at the expense of your customers’ interests, then at least allow them to make their own choices without unaffordable penalties.
As our team of more than 220 expert meteorologists tracks winter storms, wildﬁres in Southern California, and many other potential weather emergencies, a prompt reply—not to me, but to your customers—would surely be appreciated.
David W. Kenny
Chairman and CEO
The Weather Company