SKY's impending removal of the Weather Channel has Chatham Islanders furious

Weather_Channel_logoSKY Television are removing another channel.

Right off the bat of ceasing broadcast of the Travel Channel, the pay TV operator are also giving the Weather Channel the boot this month; and there are more channel changes to come.

Firstly, the impending loss of the Weather Channel has several SKY subscribers disgruntled, especially those on the Chatham Islands. “The Chathams” are roughly 840 kilometres east of Christchurch and the area is popular for fishing and boating activities.

SKY have said on their website:

We are removing this channel to make room for exciting new products and services coming to your SKY box in 2015/16!

We don’t have any plans at this stage to replace this channel. You can view the weather forecast online at www.metservice.com.

For those who don’t have access to the internet, you can get regular weather updates from 6am-10pm on our various local channels.

What about a chance of a decrease in the price of the basic package? It costs currently $49.22 per month. SKY said:

The Weather Channel is part of SKY’s Basic package which means there will be no change to your monthly bill as a result of this removal.

Internet coverage on the Chatham Islands is limited and only available by satellite and as a commenter to SKY’s Facebook page said, isn’t always reliable and not available to all residents in the community. There is no cellphone coverage on the Chathams.

Theresa Harris, a Chatham Islands resident, posted on SKY’s Facebook page that Chathams fishermen and farmers rely on the Weather Channel for the marine forecast and points out that as SKY subscribers, they “pay for this service”.

Sky you have advertised on channel 99, the weather channel, that sky is closing the channel down this month. What are…

Posted by Theresa Harris on Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Some locals say that the removal of the channel could cause marine accidents and impact on health and safety.

SKY replied to locals’ concerns about the removal of the Weather Channel, with this comment:

We do monitor viewership levels for channels before we make decisions like this, and unfortunately the audience for the Weather Channel has been steadily declining as viewers move to getting their weather information from the internet and mobile apps. We’re excited to roll out an all new SKY interface, and the new SKY On Demand service to customers in the next few months, as well as new channels next year.

Yesterday, Jacqui Southcombe, another Chatham Islander, posted to SKY’s Facebook page.

Don't quit the Weather Channel Please SKY TV!! It would be the most watched and checked channel used on the Chatham…

Posted by Jacqui Southcombe on Tuesday, 10 November 2015

I love this part of her post though:

If your (sic) encouraging people to use the internet for their weather service now, why would they not just continue to watch their programming online with other providers?

It’s a fair point since there are the alternative subscription streaming services available now. There are more channel changes that SKY are implementing, and you may not like them, as well as the commencement of their SKY On Demand service this summer. Remember, if you cancel your SKY subscription you could win a year’s subscription to Lightbox and Netflix.

SKY replied to Jacqui including this passage:

…the reality is that the audience has reduced steadily over the years as viewers find their weather through the internet and mobile apps.

Another commenter, Jacki Cook, thanked SKY for the advice:

Thanks for the push Sky. I’m going to start looking online [for] some new exciting things to watch. May as well since I’ll be looking for my weather info there from now on………

Are SKY digging themselves into a hole? Some would say they are already in a hole.

The other channel changes that are happening, see SKY launch a brand new music channel on December 1.

The channel will be named MTV Music and “bring together the best of MTV Hits and MTV Classics, broadcasting fresh new hits from the latest top artists, as well as classic favourites from the 90’s to today”. It will include new content, but effectively it’s a merger of the two currently available channels.

And since it’s part of the basic package…

MTV Music will be available to all SKY domestic customers as part of the Basic package at no extra cost.

In my opinion, I don’t see any possibility of a price decrease to the Basic package either. One channel is also lost from the basic package.

Since September, SKY has introduced TLC and removed the Travel Channel at the end of last month. This month they introduced Discovery Turbo and will remove the Weather Channel. Next month SKY will introduce MTV Music but as a result remove MTV Hits and MTV Classics.

With all these introductions and removals, there is a net loss of one channel. It might not be enough channels to lose to warrant a price decrease in the Basic package, but all these changes to channels are getting SKY subscribers up in arms and you only have to look to their Facebook page, to find what they have to say.

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About the author

Mark Wasley

I am from Palmerston North and have my own website. I love keeping myself and Throng readers up-to-date with the latest in television news and upcoming programmes. For this reason and the fact I've been a long-time member on Throng, you'll see regular posts from me on the site. I hope you enjoy them!
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  • Just me

    I don’t understand why they need to keep fiddling about with the channel numbers – it’s really confusing and the notice period they give for doing it isn’t sufficient. Also, last year there were (I think?) four music channels and now there are only two. Now they put that crappy TLC channel on – I’m sick of seeing that sick pervert with all his wives all the time – and the E channel may as well be called the Kardashian channel. I miss the Travel channel. I bet they’ll take away the only remaining decent channel next – the C&I channel. I don’t think the dickheads making these decisions are even bothering to ask their customers for their views before making these changes and it’s not on.

    • Stuart

      There does seem to be a level of arrogance. I suppose it can set in when they’ve persuaded so much of the country to pay $49+ a month for TV. But it’s dangerous to take any customer for granted. Presumably Sky weren’t aware of how valuable the Weather Chnl was to people in the Chathams. I hope it won’t lead to worse elsewhere – commercial decisions that cause losses for particular regions (e.g. rural NZ).

  • Jay

    Sad to see MTV Classic go – I really liked that channel (when I had Sky). Same comment applies to J2, that was really good as well.