Change in the Weather Coming Soon

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The Weather Channel is putting the finishing touches on anew on-air look -- but its executives cannot yet forecast exactly when that revamp willhit the small screen.

New visual images, designed by Pittard Sullivan, will beapparent in all the network's IDs, promos, interstitials and program openings'in a few weeks,' Terry O'Reilly, TWC's senior vice president ofprogramming and production, said last week. He described the new spots as 'morepersonal, warmer' than the current 'highly graphical look.' For one thing,its meteorologists will be shown out of doors, admiring nature.

In some of the 16-year-old network's biggest changesto its look, Weather also will employ new signature music, more animation for its programtitles and sponsor billboards superimposed over studio shots.

'I have absolutely no idea what it will cost,' hesaid.

The network put off the debut of its new look beyond theoriginally planned Jan. 20 date since all the desired changes could not be finished intime.

On the programming side, TWC, acting on some findings fromits 'ongoing, constant' consumer research by its own staff and outside firms,will schedule its features at predictable times throughout the day, a la Cable NewsNetwork and all-news radio stations, and present them on 'a menu board' at thestart of each half hour. That's to deflate the 'perception that we'rereally repetitive,' he explained.

Local forecasts will continue to be given every 10 minutes.

Moreover, since viewers' needs vary by daypart, TWCwill offer fast-paced weather reports in the mornings, and more detailed explanations atnight, O'Reilly said. In another outgrowth of its consumer research, the network willincrease its remote coverage, even when there's no threatening weather condition,because viewers said they like 'live views of people in interesting, activeweather,' he said.

TWC will 'more than double the amount of livecoverage' over last year, O'Reilly predicted -- more if it's stormier thanexpected.

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