The Weather Channel
Last week's dispute between the Weather Channel and Dish Network seems to have been resolved, with the Weather Channel getting most of what it wanted from the satellite service provider.
But the underlying issues -- whether the Weather Channel's new entertainment programming is doing a dangerous disservice to viewers when major storms loom, and the increasing pressure from cable channels for greater fee concessions from service providers -- are far from resolved and are only going to get worse in the months ahead.
Viewers at home should brace themselves for rough winds.
TV weatherologist Kim Perez was just doing her normal daily forecast when her boyfriend, Marty Cunningham, walked into the shot, got down on one knee and proposed to his beloved live on the air. It was the saddest moment on The Weather Channel since a snowed-in Buffalo last learned that San Diego was a balmy 79 degrees.
This could change the entire television landscape and pretty much give us less of a selection in terms of entertainment. The rumor is that Comcast is going to keep the cable channels, then sell the NBC network. News Corporation expressed interest in the property, but the Comcast talks progressed along far enough to eliminate other potential buyers. It could be argued that having MSNBC partially owned by the same owners of Fox News is a bit of a conflict of interest.
Who would step forward to buy NBC network? The ratings haven't been great and they did do that silly thing with Jay Leno and their 10 p.m. slot. NBC is too much of a name brand to let fall by the wayside. Who do you think should step up and buy the network?
The Weather Channel has announced that it is adding movies to its schedule. The movies would have a scroll at the bottom that would keep viewers informed of the weather and other weather-related news and information, and each movie will be hosted by a meteorologist. The movies they've chosen so far all have a weather or a nature theme to them, including The Perfect Storm, March of the Penguins, Deep Blue Sea, and Misery. I'm guessing they picked Misery not for the crazy-woman-holds-a-writer-hostage angle but for the fact that the story takes places during a snowstorm.
In the standard workday, it's not unusual to find yourself discussing the weather with co-workers. It's a nice, harmless topic that everyone cares about to some degree. However, to dedicate an entire morning show to it seems excessive (mind you, I feel the same about an entire channel dedicated to it). On the other hand, if you're going to have a host of such a show, the natural choice is Al Roker.
Despite this achievement, I have no plans to consider Al as a serious journalist. Perhaps at some point he can get Mother Nature to appear on his show for an interview and discuss her infidelity with Father Time.
At the beginning of the year the beautiful and sexy Jay Black presented a wonderful dissertation on the state of channel drift in cable television that discussed many of the reasons for this phenomenon. Being someone who likes to jump on an idea and trample it to death, I decided to expand on Jay's initial premise and provide some specific examples of cable networks that have drifted one way or another. Yet, being someone who likes to add something to an existing idea before the trampling begins, I decided a twist was in order.
Since a drift can range from 'small, but noticeable' to 'am I on the right channel?' a ratings system needed to be designed to determine how far a channel has gotten away from its origins. So, in the fifteen examples I list after the jump, you will see one of four categories...Minor Shift, Moderate Shift, Major Shift and Mother of All Channel Shifts. It is these four categories that you can use to agree or disagree with my findings once they are presented. So, without a continuing narration, here are the cable networks that have encountered some sort of channel drift.
This was bound to happen. When NBC Universal decided to purchase The Weather Channel earlier this year I'm sure there were some questions as to how this would affect the network's Weather Plus operation. You mean you don't know about Weather Plus? Sure you do! It's the 4-year old digital content operation that paired the network with their affiliates to air its content on their digital channels. It's also what MSNBC and CNBC have been using the last few years during times of severe weather.
Well, the answer to if both Weather Plus and The Weather Channel would be run simultaneously has been answered: they won't. NBC News President Steve Capus said Weather Plus operation would be phased out in stages through the end of the year, affecting both on- and off-air staff. There is no word if any of the Weather Plus technology or staff will be integrated into other aspects of the News division or into TWC in general.
It was all really uncomfortable, obvious and out of place when you are tuning in for news, politics, some pop culture and get NBCU corporate cheerleaders in full pom-pom mode.
Okay, enough ranting; there is some news to report. If the deal goes through -- and it will -- Today weatherman Al Roker may be relocating or he'll be repurposed, becoming the face of The Weather Channel.
I remember a Saturday Night Live sketch from the late 1970's where Harry Shearer was a DJ at a radio station that only gave the time of day. No music, no news, no weather -- just the time. I am always reminded of that sketch every time I watch The Weather Channel. I mean, who would have thought that 24 hours worth of weather forecasts would ever amount to anything?
Landmark Communications apparently did when it started the channel back in 1982. Now, the network, along with its Weather.com site and various other enterprises, is bringing in billions of dollars to the communications company. Sadly, though, Landmark may lose this linchpin since the family that owns the privately-owned company is looking into putting it up for sale.
And now, another chapter in the continuing story of how old we really are . . .
Today marks the 25th anniversary of The Weather Channel. Are you feeling old yet?
The basic-cable network was launched on May 2nd, 1982 and received a lukewarm reception from viewers and industry people who felt that its amateurish geekiness would be its downfall. However, as it began to shed some of that amateurishness and nerdiness, the Atlanta-based network became a stalwart figure on cable.
Scott Leth of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, has written a piece on the history of the The Weather Channel which provides a lot of inside facts. For instance, only 1.5 million homes received the network when it was launched in 1982. Now, 93 million homes receive The Weather Channel. Only a hundred people worked for TWC when it launched. Now, the network boasts a staff of 800. Twelve staffers still remain from the original hundred, including on-air meteorologists Mark Mancuso and Bill Keneely.
Well, there goes one more hour where you won't learn about the F5 tornado bearing down on your town.
The Weather Channel, once home to around-the-clock local and national weather and now home to shows such as Storm Stories and the happy It Could Happen Tomorrow, will now be launching a program about global warming. Titled The Climate Code with Dr. Heidi Cullen, the weekly series, which will premiere in October, will explore the issues surrounding, and the eventual effects of, global warming. The program will feature feature experts on this environmental change, as well as people like Al Gore and Ted Turner, who are passionate about these global phenomenon and have been drilling it into our skulls for several decades now.
During a particularly bad spate of thunderstorms blanketing the Delaware Valley last week I switched on The Weather Channel thinking I would see some reports about the severe weather that was crossing the region. However, after my local forecast ended I was treated to a special which featured team coverage about the official start of the 2006 hurricane season.
Well, I looked outside, switched around to the other news networks, went on the Internet (until the thunderstorms knocked out my access), then rocketed into space in my personal spacecraft to see if any hurricanes were making landfall on the United States' coastline. I couldn't find any. So, why the heck did they have all of this team coverage when all I wanted to find out is if my house would be flooded by torrential rains or stuck several times by lightning?
Pat, Pat, Pat. On the one hand, you tell the viewers of The 700 Club that the Lord is a kind and passionate being that helps all, as long as people call in with the donations the Lord needs to help everyone. Yet, on the other hand, you tell them four times in the last two weeks that the Lord told you huge storms, and a possible tsunami, will hit the coasts of America this year. I'm no theologian, but would that make the Lord vengeful, or at least a gossip-monger?
Yes, Pat Robertson has added 'weather prognostication' to his resume, pretty much making The Weather Channel obsolete overnight. His predictions began last week when he said that the Lord told him during a prayer retreat that huge storms would lash both coasts of the United States this year. On Wednesday of this week he said that something as bad as a tsunami could hit the Pacific Northwest this summer.
Of course, we should take these predictions seriously. As serious as we took his suggestions that we should assassinate the president of Venezuela and that former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon had his massive stroke because of his pull-out from the Gaza Strip.
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