Thousands of Wilson County residents may soon be without The Weather Channel.
Satellite-television provider DIRECTV has yet to reach an agreement with the popular weather-centric television station to continue offering the channel.
According to an open letter to DIRECTV customers from The Weather Channel Meterologist Jim Cantore, the satellite-television provider is balking at The Weather Channel’s proposed 1-cent-per-subscriber increase.
“After midnight (EST) [Monday], we’ll no longer have permission from The Weather Channel to offer its network,” said DIRECTV’s Thomas Teyrer. “DIRECTV would hope to keep The Weather Channel, but customers can receive around-the-clock weather news and information on Weather Nation (Channel 361) while we continue to work with The Weather Channel on how to provide its service.”
Teyrer said DIRECTV launched Weather Nation after receiving numerous customer complaints about The Weather Channel’s extensive lineup of reality TV programming.
For most rural residents, satellite dishes are the only options for paid television service because of the costs associated with running cable lines to few subscribers.
DIRECTV does not release county-specific numbers of subscribers, but as of 2010, more than 43,000 Wilson County residents live in rural areas.
Wilson Emergency Management Agency’s Capt. Steve Spencer said that although he, as a weather enthusiast, personally enjoys The Weather Channel, it’s not his top recommendation for hazardous weather alerts.
“There are a lot of resources in the community for people to get weather warnings,” said Spencer. “As far as notifications and warnings, we have always recommended the NOAA weather radio above any other resource.”
He said satellite dishes tend to lose signals during inclement weather, but the NOAA weather radio provides instant warnings and almost all models include battery backup in case of power outages.