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Warring weather channels vie for viewers

February 10, 2014 • Entertainment


Paul Falavolito, the chief of a small, non-profit ambulance service is photographed in White Oak, Pa. on Monday, Feb. 10, 2014. Changes in weather are important for Falavolito’s ambulance service, and he was outraged last month when he flipped on DirecTV’s replacement weather service, WeatherNation TV, and it was broadcasting a seven-day extended forecast for Los Angeles while he was in the Northeast. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

A sudden change in the weather means real money for Paul Falavolito. When a snowstorm rolls in, the chief of a small, non-profit ambulance service in White Oak, Pa., has to keep paramedics in ambulance bays longer. If there’s a break in the weather, he can let idling crews go home rather than paying them overtime.

So Falavolito was outraged last month when he flipped on DirecTV’s replacement weather service, WeatherNation TV. As a swirling snowstorm swept through the Northeast, closing schools and knocking out power, Falavolito watched meteorologist Rob Koch give a seven-day forecast for Los Angeles: Mostly sunny, with highs in the 70s and 80s.

“I was just extremely disappointed,” says Falavolito, 43. “I’m reading tweets about hundreds of thousands of people on the East Coast that don’t have power. WeatherNation was talking about the weather in Los Angeles. To me, it’s very unacceptable.”

Since Jan. 13, El Segundo, Calif.-based DirecTV has replaced The Weather Channel with WeatherNation TV in a dispute over fees. The move is angering customers — people like Falavolito, who say WeatherNation is a poor substitute that offers rote seven-day forecasts without the in-depth analysis of people like Weather Channel star Jim Cantore.

Standoffs like the one between The Weather Channel and DirecTV are becoming commonplace as TV content producers demand higher fees from the cable and satellite companies that carry their programming. The higher fees, say pay-TV providers, result in ballooning bills for consumers. What makes the current dispute different is that DirecTV is raising a new argument for the Login to read more

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