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Relations between Weather Channel and Dish Network get stormy

May 20, 2010 |  3:29 pm

Dish Network, the nation's second largest satellite broadcaster, with just over 14 million subscribers, is planning on dropping the Weather Channel and is starting the "Weather Cast," its own version of the network.

The move comes after Dish and Weather Channel have been unable to reach a new distribution agreement. 

Dish said Weather Cast will "feature live round-the-clock weather reporting" and will replace Weather Channel, which the company said "has recently moved away from weather reporting to a mix of movies and other entertainment-focused programming."

The new channel will premiere at midnight Thursday, when its current deal with Weather Channel expires.

In a statement, Weather Channel said it was disappointed by Dish's move, adding that "despite negotiations over the past several months, Dish has chosen to be the first distributor to drop the Weather Channel rather than pay the industry standard rates others in the industry have already agreed to pay."

According to industry consulting firm SNL Kagan, Weather Channel charges about 11 cents per subscriber, per month. That is one of the lower subscriber fees for a cable channel. Of course, Weather Channel does not have the big ratings of general entertainment networks that charge distributors more for carriage. Weather Channel was seeking to up its fee by nearly 10%, to 12 cents per subscriber, a person close to the situation said. 

The two sides have been arguing over money for several months now, and Dish having a new network ready seems to indicate that it has been prepared to drop Weather Channel for some time.

Weather Channel is owned by a consortium composed of private equity firms Blackstone Group and Bain Capital with NBC Universal holding a minority stake. 

-- Joe Flint

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