The spat between The Weather Channel and DirecTV just got a lot uglier.
In a scornful full page ad published in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post and Wall Street Journal, Weather Channel CEO David Kenny slammed DirecTV?s chairman and CEO Michael White’s decision to drop the channel and insisted that DirecTV not punish viewers who decided to unsubscribe over the squabble.
“Many thousands have called your customer service centers asking to terminate their contracts since they are now getting less content for the same price,” Kenny sniped. “But DirecTV is threatening them with termination fees of $200 to $400.”
“Your customers were never given a vote about DirecTV?s decision to drop The Weather Channel,” he added. “The least you can do is allow them to vote now with their feet by waiving termination fees for those seeking to switch to a provider that still carries The Weather Channel, as every other pay-TV company in the nation does.”
The Weather Channel is demanding DirecTV pay an additional 1 cent per month per subscriber. DirecTV refused and has replaced the network with WeatherNation, something TWC calls “a cheap start-up that does weather forecasting on a three-hour taped loop, has no field coverage, no weather experts.”
?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,” DirecTV said in a statement.
In a statement to The Wrap, Weather Channel executive vice president of corporate communications Shirley Powell explained the vitriol behind the letter.
“We wrote this public letter to fight for our viewers,” Powell wrote. “We find it disappointing and unfair to them that they want to see The Weather Channel and yet cannot afford DirecTV’s onerous cancellation fees. DirecTV can’t have it both ways – reducing the value of their offering by dropping The Weather Channel, while at the same time raising prices to consumers. Any customer who thinks that’s a raw deal ought to be able to switch to a different provider without facing an unaffordable penalty. Viewers shouldn’t be held hostage.”
“The Weather Channel is so used to dramatizing the weather, they may have lost all sense of reality,” DirecTV’s Robert Mercer fired back.
Read the full ad below:
January 22, 2014
Mr. Michael D. White
Chairman, CEO and President
Just before midnight on January 13, DIRECTV customers lost access to The Weather Channel. Since then, over 4 million customers have come to keeptheweatherchannel.com to express their frustration. Over 400,000 have called and emailed DIRECTV. And over 90,000 have pledged to switch providers.
Many thousands have called your customer service centers asking to terminate their contracts since they are now getting less content for the same price. But DIRECTV is threatening them with termination fees of $200 to $400.
We have heard from viewers across the country, like Heather in Texas who wrote, ?We just signed on with DIRECTV.?Had I known this was going to happen I would NOT have signed up. I read the fine print (too late) and found that they can do that. It?s wrong.?
We agree. Fairness ought to trump the fine print in your contracts.
The decision to switch providers is never taken lightly. Those who are trying to do so clearly believe The Weather Channel is a valued resource for their families. They are people like @jlawson2011, who tweeted ?The Weather Channel saved my life when there was severe weather in my area. Tornado imminent + TWC warning to hide.?
These viewers — your customers — value the fact that since 1982 The Weather Channel has been relying upon the National Weather Service for watches and warnings, which we deliver on a hyper-local basis through our proprietary localization technology.
Your customers were never given a vote about DIRECTV?s decision to drop The Weather Channel. The least you can do is allow them to vote now with their feet by waiving termination fees for those seeking to switch to a provider that still carries The Weather Channel, as every other pay-TV company in the nation does.
Our preference would be for DIRECTV to come back to the negotiating table and restore The Weather Channel to your line up. But as you seem intent on proving a point at the expense of your customers? interests, then at least allow them to make their own choices without unaffordable penalties.
As our team of more than 220 expert meteorologists tracks winter storms, wildfires in Southern California, and many other potential weather emergencies, a prompt reply?not to me, but to your customers?would surely be appreciated.
David W. Kenny
Chairman and CEO
The Weather Company