When it rains, it pours. Hours after pulling its service from DirecTV following failed carriage talks with the satcaster, NBCUniversal-owned The Weather Channel announced a new initiative in its campaign to boost its status as a public utility. The company said it will start promoting new weather emergency Twitter hashtags #GotFuel, #NoFuel and #PowerLineDown established by the White House, FEMA, and the Department of Energy, adding to recent efforts to rebrand as a key resource for information in the event of natural disaster and weather emergencies. TWC says its promotion of said hashtags “will enable local citizens to report important emergency information” and thus aid “survivors, first responders, FEMA, DOE and utility companies” in the face of emergency. The timing isn’t coincidental.
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In the recent buildup to their contract talks with DirecTV, TWC has been hastily trying to build an image as a public utility company that promotes safety. The campaign began last Friday when TWC urged subscribers to lobby DirecTV on their behalf as the contract deadline approached and DirecTV launched their own competing WeatherNation channel. DirecTV followed TWC’s removal last night with a statement, saying: “Consumers understand there are now a variety of other ways to get weather coverage, free of reality show clutter, and that The Weather Channel does not have an exclusive on weather coverage – the weather belongs to everyone.”