THE WEATHER CHANNEL ~ The Improbable Rise of a Media Phenomenon

THE WEATHER CHANNEL  ~ The Improbable Rise of a Media Phenomenon

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Book review and technical detail THE WEATHER CHANNEL ~ The Improbable Rise of a Media Phenomenon Frank Batten , Jeffrey L. Cruikshank

Technical detail of THE WEATHER CHANNEL ~ The Improbable Rise of a Media Phenomenon
Title
THE WEATHER CHANNEL ~ The Improbable Rise of a Media Phenomenon
author Frank Batten , Jeffrey L. Cruikshank
ISBN 108472
Language English
Category Entertainment & Sports
Publisher Harvard Business Review Press
Pages 304
Publishing Date 1st January, 1970

Book Reviews:

Co-founder Batten provides a sloppy history of the Weather Channel's first 20 years on the air.Its origins go back five years earlier. In 1977, Batten was CEO of a newspaper-radio-cable TV conglomerate based in Norfolk, Virginia, looking for a new venture. John Coleman, weatherman for ABC's Good Morning America, believed that a 24-hour weather channel could make money. The two men formed a partnership in 1979, selected weather-stable Atlanta as headquarters, and purchased premium satellite space. Three operational problems confronted them at the start. The first, gathering weather data from around the country, was solved by the government’s National Weather Service, which traded its information for good publicity. The second, sorting the data and creating local forecasts, was handled by two Digital Equipment computers and four programmers. Addressing problem number three, distributing the results and making sure that Chicago did not get Charlotte's or Cheyenne's forecast, relied on a new and developing system, WeatherSTAR. Batten and Cruikshank remain trapped in techno-speak while discussing the methodology of WeatherSTAR and other complex systems; they fail to provide useful metaphors or clarifying explanations—although banging a satellite dish with a hammer does solve some troubles. (Two other serious problems, a guaranteed sublease of the satellite to a movie provider for two hours every night and a 1985 threat to form a union by weathercasters enraged about favoritism and pay inequities, also disappear without satisfactory explanations.) TWC was losing $10 million annually and nearly went under in 1983. Batten and Coleman feuded in an embarrassing court case, but the publicity convinced cable providers that popular but struggling channels needed cash infusions. Subscriber fees were initiated, revolutionizing the industry and saving TWC, which went on to expand into Canada, South America, Europe, and the Internet. Revenues in 2000 were $302 million, but Batten is coy about profits.A rush job to meet the channel’s 20th anniversary in May. (Charts, illustrations)

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