News

Storm Front: Dish, Weather In Spat

5/24/2010 4:19 AM Eastern

Forecast: a high-pressure system
potentially extending into the weekend.

Last week, Dish Network threatened
to pull the plug on The Weather Channel
after the parties’ carriage agreement
expired, a move that would peel off more
than 14 million from the network’s 100
million-household reach.

As of 3 p.m. Eastern time last Friday, Dish
and The Weather Channel were still deadlocked
in negotiations. Their previous deal
had expired at 12:01 a.m. ET on May 21.

A day earlier, Dish announced that it
planned to replace Weather Channel —
which would make it the first major distributor
to drop the 28-year-old cable mainstay
— with Weather Cast, a 24-hour service produced
by WeatherNation LLC, a startup
based in Excelsior, Minn.

“Our customers always tell us that the
only thing they want in a weather channel
is weather reporting,” Dave Shull, Dish Network
senior vice president of programming,
said in a statement. “We believe The Weather
Cast is the best available weather service
in America.”

Dish, exhibiting its notoriously hardnosed
negotiating tactics, said on a section of
its site set up for customers that “our contract
with The Weather Channel is expiring and
they are demanding unreasonable contract
terms that would impact customer pricing.
We felt that the pending contract expiration
presented an ideal opportunity to respond
to feedback from customers who have been
asking for better weather programming.”

The page had been removed as of Friday
morning.

According to Dish’s previous statement, The
Weather Channel “has recently moved away
from weather reporting to a mix of movies and
other entertainment-focused programming.”

In a statement last Thursday, The Weather
Channel said, “Despite negotiations over
the past several months, Dish has chosen to
be the first distributor to drop The Weather
Channel, rather than pay the standard industry
rates others in the industry have already
agreed to pay … We are disappointed
with their decision and hopeful that we can
still reach an agreement with Dish Network
and bring this highly valued network back to
its customers.”