Just after midnight on Tuesday morning, DirecTV dropped The Weather Channel from roughly 20 million screens over carriage disputes -- and now the embattled channel is framing the clash as a matter of life and death.
Calling itself a "critical life-saving community resource" on its newly-launched website, keeptheweatherchannel.com, The Weather Channel is also urging DirecTV consumers to switch to alternate providers and contact their local congressmen. Adds on-air personality Jim Cantore in a short video on the site, "Don't let DirecTV control the weather."
In its stead, DirecTV has temporarily replaced The Weather Channel with WeatherNation, a competitor.
While The Weather Channel was seeking an increased carriage fee of one penny per subscriber each month, reports Bloomberg, DirecTV was looking to substantially reduce the channel's current 13-cent rate.
Dan York, DirecTV's chief content officer, issued a statement saying the two companies remain in talks. He added, perhaps a bit derisively, that consumers today are increasingly turning to other mediums such as mobile devices and local television stations to be kept abreast of weather news.
"Consumers understand there are now a variety of other ways to get weather coverage, free of reality show clutter," York said. "The Weather Channel does not have an exclusive on weather coverage -- the weather belongs to everyone."
For his part, David Kenny, the chairman and CEO of The Weather Company, which owns The Weather Channel, called the blackout a "dangerous gamble" given the network's relatively diminutive request. "This is not a big increase," he said, "and we haven't had anyone else balk."