Channeling Weather

May 21, 2010 · 0 comments

Meteorologist Paul Huttner’s writes on his Minnesota Public Radio blog, “Updraft” about the launch today of a new cable TV channel for weather, “The Weather Cast.”

From my perspective, this news may come as the equivalent of a nuclear bomb for national cable and satellite weather programming. This is the first time since The Weather Channel’s launch that a viable national alternative has appeared.

The distributor, and apparent instigator, of the new channel is the DISH Network, with 14 million subscribers. In its press release, the network explained it was responding to a proliferation of movies, features and other content on TWC that aren’t about the weather at hand:

“Our customers always tell us that the only thing they want in a weather channel is weather reporting,” said Dave Shull, senior vice president of Programming [for DISH].

But there’s more to the business side of this decision than just trying to cater to viewers: DISH had been negotiating with TWC over fees, with a deadline of midnight Thursday.  The plan was for DISH to dump TWC (channel 214) and substitute the The Weather Cast (initially channel 213) assuming no deal with TWC.

A visit to the DISH web site didn’t yield any further information, but Huttner reports that fellow Minnesota meteorology icon Paul Douglas is producing the network through his company, Weather Nation.

Dare we imagine a day when weather junkies will be able to surf national cable channels the way politicos and news junkies surf Fox, CNN, MSNBC and other outlets?