The Weather Channel (TWC) is an American cable and satellite television network that, since May 2, 1982, broadcasts weather forecasts and weather-related news, along with entertainment programming related to weather such as Storm Stories, 24 hours a day. In addition to its programming on the cable channel, TWC also provides forecasts for terrestrial and satellite radio stations, newspapers, and websites, and maintains an extensive online presence at weather.com.
The Weather Channel debuted its high-definition simulcast on September 26, 2007. It has its headquarters in the Cumberland area of metro Atlanta, Georgia, in unincorporated Cobb County near the intersection of Interstates 75 and 285.
The Weather Channel was founded in 1981 by John Coleman and Frank Batten. It was launched on May 2, 1982.
The Weather Channel uses special proprietary equipment that inserts local weather forecast and warning information if it is viewed on a cable TV system. The original Weather Star technology has been upgraded on larger cable systems to the IntelliStar, including Vocal Local to announce the current conditions, weather bulletins, and the detailed local forecast. Satellite, IPTV and some small cable system viewers originally saw only a roundup of local TWC forecasts for major cities across the U.S., as well as satellite and radar images, and severe weather watch and warning maps when active. However, satellite customers with newer systems or interactive receivers have the choice of 'roundups' or local forecasts. For both cable and satellite viewers, popular and smooth jazz music plays in the background during these segments. The original WeatherStar technology is still in use by small cable companies that cannot afford to upgrade to IntelliStar.
The Weather Channel produces a service, based on modified versions of Weather Star technology called Weatherscan, on which a separate channel constantly displays local and regional conditions and forecasts along with the Weather Channel's logo and advertisements.
The Weather Channel is headquartered in the Cumberland/Galleria area, immediately northwest of Atlanta, overlooking the "Cobb Cloverleaf" interchange from a high-rise in the Interstate North complex. TWC's sister channel in Canada is The Weather Network in English and M t oM dia in French, which use similar technology that is currently in use in the USA. TWC also runs websites in Brazil (Canal do Tempo), the United Kingdom (Weather Channel), France (M t o 123) and Germany (Wetter 123). Apart from its stake in the Weather Network/M t oM dia, TWC only runs its US channel, although it does produce international forecasts.
A definitive history of the network, The Weather Channel: The Improbable Rise of a Media Phenomenon, by Frank Batten and Jeffrey L. Cruikshank, was published by Harvard Business Press in May 2002, on TWC's 20th anniversary.
Sale to NBCUniversal
On January 3, 2008, it was reported that The Weather Channel and its assets were put up for sale by Landmark Communications. On July 6, 2008, NBC Universal, Bain Capital and Blackstone Group agreed to purchase the Weather Channel from Landmark. The sale was finalized on September 12, 2008. NBC Universal also owned NBC Weather Plus, a rival service which was carried by and featured content from its local affiliates; that service announced its discontinuation three months later. Subchannels carrying Weather Plus have moved to the Local AccuWeather Channel, kept the Weather Plus engine, or switched affiliations (e.g., to This TV or the Retro Television Network). Some have shut down entirely.
From November 2008 through February 2009, The Weather Channel terminated seven long-time on-camera meteorologists: Kristina Abernathy, Eboni Deon, Kristin Dodd, Rich Johnson, Cheryl Lemke, Mark Mancuso and Dave Schwartz. With the exception of Eboni Deon, all had been on the air for more than ten years. Three of them had been employed by the network for more than twenty years. In July, 2010, The Weather Channel terminated Bill Keneely, the last of the original on-camera meteorologists who aired on the network's first broadcasts in 1982.
Inevitably, the merger of NBC on-air meteorologists began in May 2009. Todd Santos, formerly of NBC Weather Plus, first appeared on the network on the second day of the month. Al Roker of NBC's Today show began a one-hour morning program with meteorologist Stephanie Abrams as co-host, later in the summer. However for New York-based forecasting operations (those utilized for MSNBC and CNBC forecasts, for instance), the former NBC Weather Plus forecasting, radar, and graphics systems remain in place, with banners changed to fit the Weather Channel graphics scheme. On September 10, 2009, the co-founder of The Weather Channel, Frank Batten, died.
Over the years, attempts to broadcast international versions of TWC (apart from Canada's The Weather Network/M t oM dia and the Australian version of the Weather Channel) failed. TWC also operates websites for online localized forecasts in Brazil, France, Germany, India, Latin America, and the United Kingdom, but some of these sites apparently have not been developed further since 2003. The Weather Channel also shares radar and forecasts with The Weather Network, particularly for the Weather Channel's Canadian forecasts.
- A UK version of the Weather Channel ran from September 1, 1996 to January 30, 1998, when it was closed due to low viewership. It time-shared with Sky Movies Gold/Sky Box Office 2, The Racing Channel, and Galavision, airing five hours a day. It was really designed for cable as it had specific local weather, in some cable areas it was on 24 hours a day.
- TWC also ran The Weather Channel Latin America, which operated in Spanish in Mexico, Puerto Rico and South America; this network ceased operations in December 2002. The service's three original anchors were Paola Elorza, Sal Morales, and Mari Carmen Ramos; they left the channel within a year of its launch and went on to work for Univision in Miami, Telemundo in Los Angeles, and CNN International, respectively. At one point, there was also a Portuguese version in Brazil.
Local on the 8s
Since its inception, the Weather Channel has incorporated local forecasts using Weather Star computers installed at cable headends. Until 1995, the forecasts had been played at various times each hour, but are currently shown at times ending in "8", hence the title of the local forecasts is "Local on the 8s" (though local forecasts are reduced to once every half-hour when non-forecast programs are aired). With the introduction of the current IntelliSTAR system, traffic information is also incorporated alongside local weather information, in areas that traffic.com (via its TrafficPulse service) provides traffic data.
The Weather Star systems also utilize a Lower Display Line (LDL) on the bottom of the screen during local forecasts and national programming, providing current conditions for a specific location and two or three towns within 15 miles, almanac data, forecasts and (in select cities) traffic information on cable headends using the IntelliStar system and only current conditions, and forecasts on cable headends using WeatherStar XL and older models. WeatherStar units also allow the cable company to scroll a text message when in use, including the capability to broadcast severe weather advisories and warnings when severe weather occurs in a given area, displaying warnings for the county in which the WeatherStar system's cable headend is located and surrounding counties in the immediate area.
Weatherscan (originally called Weatherscan Local from 1999 to 2003) is a cable channel offered by The Weather Channel. Launched in 1999, Weatherscan is available on some cable systems in the United States often their digital cable lineups though in fewer markets than The Weather Channel, though some providers place the channel on their basic cable lineup alongside The Weather Channel, a separate feed for satellite subscribers is expected to launch in the summer of 2010 on the Dish Network satellite service.
Weatherscan's forecast products are generated by an IntelliStar unit at the cable provider's headend, which is configured differently than the IntelliStars used by The Weather Channel, in that different graphics and additional weather products are featured and that the service airs an uninterrupted, rolling local weather format with information being shown on a continuous loop. Similar to the now-defunct NBC Weather Plus, Weatherscan displays an "L"-bar that provides current conditions and weather forecasts for the location and the surrounding area at all times during programming, with weather information also being shown on a smaller screen surrounding the "L"-bar.
Radio and newspaper presence
The Weather Channel provides forecasts for the Sirius XM Radio satellite radio services in the United States. Both services run regional forecasts on one station and have a block of combined local weather and traffic stations for major metropolitan areas.
TWC also has content partnerships with a number of local radio stations in the USA to provide local forecasts, using announcers separate from the TV service. For some affiliates, TWC actually provides a limited amount of live coverage during local severe weather (with the Georgia-based announcers connected via ISDN). Distribution of TWC radio content is currently handled by Dial Global.
Similarly, TWC also provides weather reports for a number of US newspapers, including a half-page national forecast for USA Today.
TWC provides numerous customized forecasts for online users, including home and garden and event planning forecasts. It also provides WAP access for mobile phone users, desktop widgets for quick reference by computer users, and customized weather feeds for individual websites. It follows a two-tiered service model, with the free service bearing advertisements and its pay ("Desktop Max") service lacking ads and having enhanced radar and mapping functions. Cell phone customers can even have their local forecast sent to their mobile handsets from TWC via SMS by sending a text message with their ZIP code to 42278 which spells 4cast. Other services include Yahoo!, in which the weather pages are produced by TWC.
The Weather Channel HD
The Weather Channel HD is a 1080i high definition simulcast of The Weather Channel that launched on September 26, 2007. DirecTV was the first provider to add it. At that time, no programming was actually presented in high definition, except for a national "satellite" version of the Local on the 8s. On October 1, 2007, two new high definition programs, Epic Conditions and WeatherVentures, premiered. A new high definition series, When Weather Changed History, premiered on the Weather Channel on January 6, 2008.
Throughout the final months of 2007 to the early months of 2008, various cable companies had started to add the Weather Channel HD to their cable lineups, including the Boston, MA, Austin, TX, San Antonio, TX, and Baton Rouge, LA markets. It was added to Dish Network systems on May 13, 2008. Recently, Comcast began adding the channel in some select markets like Chicago, IL. Time Warner Cable and Cablevision, both of which serve New York Metropolitan Area have also recently picked up the HD channel in late July 2008. The IntelliStar 2, which inserts Local On The 8's in HD, was officially released in July 2010. The IntelliStar 2 features; Animated Lower line display, Current Conditions, Weather Bulletins, Metro Conditions, Regional Doppler, Metro Doppler, Hourly Forecast, Local Forecast, and The Week Ahead. Voice narration is done by Jim Cantore. Currently, the system is rolling out in a gradual process on major cable systems across the country. This unit will only be used on The Weather Channel HD and will not replace the IntelliStar or other units on the standard definition channel or on Weatherscan. DirecTV added Local on the 8's to its HD feed on September 29, 2009.
TWC began studio HD programming on June 2, 2008. The new HD studio features various environmentally friendly technologies. All of TWC's schedule (except It Could Happen Tomorrow, Full Force Nature, and older episodes of Storm Stories) is currently in HD.
On October 30, 2009, The Weather Channel, in a move deemed controversial by many longtime viewers, began airing weather related movies on Friday nights. The first was The Perfect Storm, followed by March of the Penguins, Misery and Deep Blue Sea. After December 2009, these weekly movies were discontinued for the time being in favor of running Weather Center, which already aired in the entire primetime slot during the rest of the work week. Despite the controversy, the Friday night film block resumed on March 26, 2010 with Into Thin Air: Deaths on Everest under the title "Flick and a Forecast." The Weather Channel meteorologist Jen Carfagno and MSNBC contributor Tour co-hosted the film block every Friday night. NewsBlues reported the cancellation of the movie block on May 31, 2010; the removal of the block was due in part to criticism of showing movies, especially since some of the films were not directly tied to weather, as well as a snafu that occurred during a tornado outbreak in April 2010 that led a scheduled movie to be aired instead of wall-to-wall severe weather coverage. The "Flick and a Forecast" presentations have since been replaced by an additional hour of Weather Center and a two-hour block of long-form original programs.
Current on-air staff
In popular culture
The Weather Channel's original and most recognized logo was a blue rectangular box that debuted on TWC s first broadcast on May 2, 1982. This logo was revised in 1996, with the corners less rounded and the logo slightly flat. The URL text weather.com was permanently added underneath the logo in 2000. On August 15, 2005, the logo was overhauled again; the blue rectangle s corners are straight with no white trim on the edge and "The Weather Channel" text is now in title-case and left-justified, similar to the Weather Network. A 25th anniversary logo used in 2007 featured a white rectangle edged in blue connected to the current logo with "25 YEARS" inside it in blue.
Since the purchasing of The Weather Channel by NBC Universal in 2008, the network has participated in the "Green is Universal" campaign, which occurs twice a year, usually being in April and November. The network's logo changes to a shade of green to showcase its support of being environmentally friendly.
File:Twc logo.png|May 2, 1982 to March 1996: The first Weather Channel logo File:The Weather Channel logo 1996-2005.svg|March 1996 to August 2005: This logo is still used on the WeatherStar 4000 File:The Weather Channel logo 2005-present.svg|The current Weather Channel logo, which debuted on August 15, 2005 File:The Weather Channel Green Logo.png|Green is Universal/Earth Week version of logo File:TWC HD logo.svg|The current Weather Channel High Definition logo debuted 2008
- "We Take The Weather Seriously, But Not Ourselves" (1982 1984)
- "Weatherproofing America" (1984 1986)
- "You Need Us, The Weather Channel, For Everything You Do" (June 1986 March 1991)
- "Weather You Can Always Turn To" (March 1991 March 1996; U.K. march 1996 April 1998; also used currently in NOAA Weather Network)
- "No Place on Earth Has Better Weather" (March 1996 March 1998)
- "Weather Fans You're Not Alone" (1997 1998, paired with The Front)
- "Live By It" (June 2001 August 15, 2005; also currently used in Australian version)
- "Bringing Weather to Life" (August 15, 2005 February 2008; This slogan is still used on weather.com and certain other materials, e.g. mailing labels; Slogan made by Lambie-Nairn)
- "The Weather Has Never Looked Better" (June 2 late 2008; also slogan for HD broadcasting)
Hurricane, severe weather, and winter coverage slogans
Hurricane coverage slogans
- "Keeping You Ahead of the Storm" (used occasionally since the late 1990s)
- "Hurricane Central" (August October 2005; April 2012-present)
- "Your Hurricane Authority" (October 2005; 2008 present)
- "The Hurricane Authority" (2006 2007; 2009 present)
Severe weather coverage slogans
- "Your Severe Weather Authority" (March 2009 September 2009)
- "The Severe Weather Authority" (September 2009 present)
- "Tornado Central" (April 2012-Present)
Winter storm coverage slogans
- "The Winter Weather Authority" (2006 2007 winter season)
- "Your Winter Weather Authority" (January 2008 present)
Controversies and criticism
2007 global warming controversy
The web site Capital Weather published an interview with WJLA meteorologist Brian van de Graaff. In this interview, van de Graaff stated:
Global warming was voted the No.1 in 100 Biggest Weather Moments.
On December 21, 2006, Dr. Heidi Cullen reacted to this by posting "Junk Controversy not Junk Science" in a blog on the Weather Channel's web site. In her blog, Dr. Cullen reacted by stating:
The channel's original format was akin to that of a news and information cable network. Since the creation of the series Atmospheres in 2000 and Storm Stories in 2003, The Weather Channel has seen a gradual transition toward a mix of weather forecast programming and weather-related entertainment programming that paralleled the launch of sister network weatherscan, the evolution of the always on L bar|weather ticker, the development of weather.com and popular branded mobile phone applications, and the increased viewing and interest in documentary series programs on the topic of weather. Currently, The Weather Channel broadcasts a large proportion of its non-forecast content on weekends with twelve hours of the channel's weekend lineup consisting of non-forecast programming, along with two hours of non-forecast programming each weekday. The decision to show movie and series content related to weather has caused criticism from many viewers and those in the media, who have criticized The Weather Channel for deviating from its format of running weather information 24 hours a day to run more infotainment programming.
The controversy further escalated on April 30, 2010, when The Weather Channel went ahead with airing the 1992 film Wind (a film about yachting that had little to do with weather, contrary to its name) at the same time a tornado outbreak was occurring in Missouri and Arkansas. Meteorologist Jim Cantore publicly stated on his Twitter profile that he was "misled" into believing the channel would cancel the movie in favor of tornado coverage and issued a public apology for the snafu. TWC continued showing the movie while it was giving special "dual-feed" updates to Intellistar units in the area, but much of the affected area was rural and had legacy STAR systems (WeatherSTAR XLs, 4000s etc.) or satellite that did not support the dual-feed feature.
Cable and satellite carriage disputes
Dish Network carriage dispute
On May 20, 2010, Dish Network announced that it was dropping the Weather Channel at midnight ET that day in favor of its own similar weather information channel, The Weather Cast. The switch was due to high rates that the Weather Channel demanded Dish Network to pay (the Weather Channel requested a rate increase from 11 cents per subscriber per month to 12 cents, a nine percent increase, totalling $140,000 per month for all Dish subscribers), as well as The Weather Channel changing from an information-based channel to an entertainment-based one. "Dish has chosen to be the first distributor to drop The Weather Channel rather than pay the standard industry rates others in the industry have already agreed to pay," the Weather Channel said in a statement. The Weather Channel encouraged Dish Network customers to switch to other TV providers. Dave Shull, senior vice president for programming for Dish Network said Weather Channel fees are harder for Dish Network to stomach as more people get weather information online. "They're looking for bid increases when I feel like there's a real migration to the Web, and it's difficult to really justify those rate increases at this time." As of May 24, The Weather Channel stated that it had come to an agreement with Dish Network that would result in Dish carrying The Weather Channel for the next several years. Despite the earlier announcement that The Weather Channel would be dropped, the channel was never officially removed from Dish Network. The Weather Cast was discontinued in anticipation of a Weatherscan-based service that would provide local weather information for Dish Network customers. The financial terms of the deal remain undisclosed at this time. The proposed movie scheduled for the Friday after the deal was struck (May 28), Gorillas in the Mist, was dropped in favor of a six-hour marathon of Tornado Road.
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