It's a national media news item that affects us locally - as NBC Universal has announced it's shutting down the "NBC Weather Plus" network.
TVWeek reports that the weather service operating on NBC affiliates' digital subchannels, including that of Gannett's WKYC/3 in Cleveland, Media General's WCMH/4 in Columbus and Barrington's WNWO/24 in Toledo, will be "phased out in stages" between now and the end of the year.
NBC News division head Steve Capus tells the trade magazine that it wasn't just the NBC acquisition of a stake in cable TV giant The Weather Channel that spelled the end of the road for "Weather Plus". Quoting TV Week:
"This is a tough business," Mr. Capus said. “It has not been a profitable business.”
"It’s a very difficult business climate these days. You can’t ignore those realities," Mr. Capus said. "Even if the Weather Channel acquisition hadn’t happened, this was a business that was challenged. We were going to have to face that at some point."
In Cleveland, WKYC senior director and fellow blogger Frank Macek weighs in on the announcement in his "Director's Cut" blog:
What will this mean for WKYC, we'll see. There are many avenues we can follow to continue bringing Clevelanders the best local weather over the air, on-line and through mobile platforms we are currently developing.
And with NBC's ownership of "The Weather Channel", might we expect our local meteorologists showing up for appearances? Stay tuned.
HDTV buffs, particularly those who call the service by another name, "Weather Minus", are itching for the service to go away, as it takes away HDTV bandwidth.
This is particularly noticeable during fast-action sports events, like NBC's "Sunday Night Football"...though many stations take the extra step of reducing the subchannel's bandwidth during those events to give more room to the HD feed.
But it's an open question, right now, if WKYC, WCMH and/or WNWO will release that bandwidth permanently...or put another subchannel of some sort up - be it weather, news or entertainment-oriented - in the place of "Weather Plus".
With digital TV becoming the over-air norm in February, we'd probably bet on the latter scenario...