The Weather Channel CEO is talking about the much publicized controversy with DirectTV who dropped the meteorological giant from their lineup, upsetting millions of their loyal customers many of whom have started petitions to bring them back.
David Kenny has decided to hit DirectTV hard in the network’s efforts to bring The Weather Channel back to the satellite provider.
DirectTV blacked out TWC on January 13, after the two sides failed to reach an agreement as to how much it would cost for the satellite provider to carry the weather network.
The Weather Channel has been steadily losing viewers in the last few years and Kenny was hired two years ago to fix that problem, but now that the network is embroiled in the dispute with DirectTV he finds himself needing to be aggressive.
The Weather Channel has been accused of straying from its original mission of providing 24/7 weather coverage and moving to more reality TV programming.
As Winter Storm Leon was bearing down and paralyzing Atlanta last week, Kenny sat down for a Q&A published in the RadioTVTalk blog.
Addressing the dispute with DirectTV Kenny explained that they have contracts with all the carriers and this one was up.
“We spent most of the last year on it. But there was never a negotiation. It was take it or leave it.” the CEO said.
Regarding statements from DirecTV’s Michael White released said “99.9995 percent of its subscribers have stayed.”
The Weather Channel CEO responds:
“I can’t explain any of it. Their statements don’t make sense. 99.9995 percent mathematically equals 100 people. It isn’t the truth. Even if it were, they should do the right thing and let people leave without egregious cancellation fees. When you pay $1,200 a year and if something of value is taken away and can’t get your money refunded and get out of your contract, it’s crazy arrogant.”
The Weather Channel reaches millions of viewers who live in rural areas and depend on an accurate forecast — which during this winter of 2014 could be life saving — and Kenny says they rely on information provided by TWC, as they have limited television choices and internet connection.
Kenny says TWC decided to go public when they realized there wasn’t going to be a negotiation and started warning DirectTV customers days ahead of the January 13 black out deadline.
Of the efforts to take their grievances to Congress, the CEO explains:
“More than 300,000 people have contacted Congress. Congressmen care about their constituents. And congressmen care about bullies beating up on an independent network. I think congressmen understand the concept of local. Over the long term, this certainly influences the way the industry is structured, DirecTV has a very strong lobbying effort. This will influence the way they think of them.”
Kenny wouldn’t give an opinion on Weathernation — the network DirectTV replaced them with, which many customers complain about and adds he welcomes competition.
The Weather Channel is continuously focused on weather events, but will also add programming about what viewers are interested, such as “Building Invincible,” about how buildings withstand hurricanes, Kenny says.