Contractual enforcement issue kicks Weather Channel off DirecTV


Many New Jersey residents have heard of contract disputes between satellite providers and stations. Some people may have even had their favorite stations taken off their programming due to these disputes. DirecTV recently dropped the Weather Channel off its programming list due to price increases. But the Weather Channel is fighting back for a unique reason - the channel's executives claim that dropping the channel can put viewers in danger.

The Weather Channel is a comprehensive source for weather information throughout the United States. Executives at the station claim that if the channel is taken off the air, viewers won't be aware of dangerous storms or tornadoes. They could end up killed without access to weather conditions in their area.

Is this a strong contractual defense? In the age of smartphones and other electronic devices, how many people actually rely on a cable station for weather reports? The Weather Channel says that many people rely on the station's weather reports. In fact, many of the on-air staff are often thanked by survivors. In addition, the elderly and those who live in rural areas often look to the station for weather news.

Satellite TV subscribers all have their own favorite stations and dropping even one channel - especially a popular one - can have dire financial consequences for a company. DirecTV may be balking at the increased carriage fees, but they will really be hurting if customers jump ship due to the dropped channel. Both sides should try to work out this contractual enforcement issue for the customers' sake. If money is an issue for DirecTV, they can try mediation and work out a deal that both sides can agree on.

Source: New York Daily News, " Contract dispute displaces the Weather Channel from DirecTV lineup," Don Kaplan, Jan. 19, 2013