DirecTV’s hilarious argument for dropping Weather Channel

As of early this morning, The Weather Channel is no longer on DirectTV, and the two companies are pointing fingers at each other. It’s hard to find sympathy for two corporations fighting to maximize their profits, but the back and forth battle is somewhat amusing, especially since reality TV has been dragged into the middle.

In a statement attributed to Chief Content Officer Dan York, DirecTV said, in part:

“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. Most consumers don’t want to watch a weather information channel with a forecast of a 40% chance of reality TV. So with that in mind, we are in the process of discussing an agreement to return the network to our line-up at the right value for our customers.”

“A 40% chance of reality TV!” That’s truly hilarious. It refers to The Weather Channel’s increasing number of original reality series, such as Breaking Ice, Highway Thru Hell, Prospectors, and Coast Guard Alaska, which are sometimes only tangentially related to weather. When it announced Coast Guard Alaska, the network’s president, Bob Walker, cited “the strategy we’ve developed for The Weather Channel’s long-form content across all platforms” and said “it has all the elements we’re looking for in original programming — great storytelling, action and adventure, and most importantly, how the weather affects someone’s work and lifestyle.”

The Weather Channel is taking a different, less amusing approach, arguing that it is a “critical life-saving community resource” and “a public safety resource”. That argument, which is, at best, insanely sensational because it ignores all the other ways people get weather information in 2014. The network did tangentially cite their reality programming in its statement today, which said, in part:

“We are not looking for a large fee increase. We are simply looking for a fair deal that allows our company to continue to invest in the science and technology that enables us to keep people safe, deliver the world’s best weather, and tell weather stories to help people be prepared and informed.”

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about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.