I was disappointed when I tuned in to channel 362 on my DirecTV this morning and didn’t see The Weather Channel. I was instead met with its red-headed, freckle-faced step-sibling, the relatively unknown Weather Nation. Actually, Weather Nation wasn’t too bad, though I was annoyed not having access to my local weather forecast when I pushed the red button on the remote. I sighed and then looked out the window. It was dark but I could hear the rain and see the drops on my windows. I unlocked the back door and opened it. It was cold. So from that I deduced the weather was cold and rainy: I better dress warm and bring an umbrella. Weather forecast complete.
With no solution in sight and DirecTV threatening to drop The Weather Channel from its lineup, the latter pulled out the big guns recently:
Starting today, The Weather Channel will begin asking DIRECTV viewers and all Weather Channel supporters to call their Representative and Senators in Washington and ask them to help keep this critical public safety resource in the DIRECTV lineup. Given the increasing frequency and severity of weather-related emergencies across the country, access to timely and accurate weather information is imperative for public safety and, therefore, an issue meriting Congressional attention.
This is what happens when a company corners the market on a product or service—it has the power to call for government intervention. This carriage dispute is an issue of money, not public safety, and it’s appalling that the executives at The Weather Channel would attempt to scare subscribers into believing their safety was at risk. There are alternatives. The Weather Channel prides itself in their high-priced, well-known meteorological staff and can afford to push out its competitors; however, competent weather broadcasts and information are available through other sources.
I’m not taking the side of either The Weather Channel or DirecTV in this dispute; rather I am taking the side of the consumer. Competition is healthy and no private company should be so large and so powerful that it knows it can rely on government intervention to step in and save it.
—Follow Jessica Clackum on Twitter: @JessicaClackum