The Weather Channel is up for sale

I wonder if Heidi Cullen comes with the deal? 5 billion dollars seems a bit steep. Any takers?

From Andrew Ross Sorkin at the New York Times:

The Weather Channel, one of the last privately owned cable channels, is being put up for sale and could fetch more than $5 billion, according to people briefed on the auction. The channel and its rapidly growing Web site, weather.com, are already attracting interest from some of the biggest names in media, including NBC, a unit of General Electric; the News Corporation; and Comcast, these people said.

The sale of the Weather Channel, these people said, is part of a larger breakup of its parent, Landmark Communications, a privately held company controlled by the Batten family of Norfolk, Va., which also owns daily newspapers and other media properties. Landmark’s newspaper holdings include The Virginian-Pilot in Norfolk, The News & Record of Greensboro, N.C., and The Roanoke Times in Virginia, as well as 50 other community newspapers. The company, which does not release its earnings, generated $1.75 billion in revenue in 2006 and has 12,000 employees, according to Hoover’s.

JPMorgan Chase is advising Landmark on the sale of the Weather Channel, and Lehman Brothers is advising the company on the sale of its other media assets, people briefed on the process said.

A spokesman for Landmark could not be reached.

The sale of the Weather Channel, once written off as a dull network for weather buffs, could become especially heated as it is one of the few remaining basic cable channels available for sale. One potential suitor approached by Landmark described the Weather Channel as “beachfront property.”

Its audience has mushroomed as the channel has expanded its coverage of hurricanes and others storms around the world and created programming about climate change, taking an aggressive and sometimes controversial role in the global warming debate.

The channel is also a godsend for advertisers. Like live sports, it is largely immune from TiVos and other digital video recorders. The channel has 800 employees; 125 are meteorologists.

Perhaps more appealing for some big media companies may be the Weather Channel’s Web business, which was started in 1995. Weather.com ranks as the nation’s 18th-largest media site by traffic, with more than 32 million unique users in November, according to Nielsen/NetRatings. That is bigger than CNN and Facebook. (more)

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16 Responses to The Weather Channel is up for sale

  1. henry says:

    Not really a comment about the weather station sale, but rather another series of photos about PA COOP stations, then and now:

    http://pasc.met.psu.edu/PA_Climatologist/cooptan

    Paste to proper thread as needed…

  2. Evan Jones says:

    Maybe George Soros and Rupert Murdoch will get in a bidding war.

  3. henry says:

    As long as whoever gets it doesn’t turn it into the “Global Warming Channel”.

    There’s not enough “Head-On” made to cure THAT headache…

  4. Andrew says:

    If News Corp buys it, she’ll probably quit. If it gets bought by NBC, you can bet it will be the “Global Warming Channel” and she’ll basically run the show. Why? Because GE stands to profit if we go green, that’s why.

  5. Jack says:

    They want 5 billion? Why would anyone want to spend that kind of money when we have free access to Anthony’s website?

  6. MattN says:

    As long as whoever gets it doesn’t turn it into the “Global Warming Channel”.

    They’ve already done that. When’s the last time you watched? It’s global warming this, global warming that. They can’t go 20 minutes without saying the words.

    I wrote Joe D’aleo a few months ago and inquired what happened to them. His reposnse:

    “Their consultants said they should be taking advantage of the global
    warming craze to build ratings. They hired a former CNN producer to
    adjust the programming. They hired Heidi Cullen who started in Divinity
    School then went into science got her PhD and had a job at NCAR. She worked
    with climate models but I was told by someone who worked with her that
    her knowledge of climate science was a mile wide and an inch deep. She
    has no regard for data issues, the sun and oceans, although her bio
    lists one of her specialties as the NAO (North Atlantic Oscillation).”

  7. Joe says:

    They may have their claimed traffic and viewers. But, they don’t have me. I live 1.5 blocks from the Gulf of Mexico (Mississippi Sound) in Biloxi. Only when in the throes of a hurricane will I take a peek at what they’re saying. Why?…It’s those apocalyptic shows and Cullen.

  8. henry says:

    I also live in Biloxi, and really haven’t listened much to the weather channel’s hurricane coverage since the John Hope days. 10 minutes an hour (less than that if you include the trip reports and head-on commercials) just doesn’t cut it.

    Might go to the “weather on the eights”, but cable here has 24/7 local coverage, so that’s covered…

    I find I get better advice and earlier warnings about hurricanes from the weather underground web site (and even there, you’ve got to put up with the GW stuff).

  9. Reid says:

    CNBC discussed The Weather Channel (TWC) sale. TWC has $550 million in sales revenue. Ten times sales is a HEFTY price. GE probably won’t bid since they are value buyers. Rupert Murdoch was considered more likely since he is more media-synergy oriented.

    The Batten family that owns TWC is also heavily invested in the newspaper business. In my opinion, they have seen what the internet has done to their newspaper business and want to sell their TV assets before the internet ravages the industry.

    The internet has devastated the newspaper and music industries. TV is next!

  10. Andrew says:

    What is it about Divinity that makes people switch to climate obsession? Al Gore and Heidi Cullen both, huh?

    At least, that’s the way I remember it.

  11. Philip_B says:

    I recall reading a book by the founder of the Weather Channel and how they tried to set up in Europe and their model tanked there.

    Murdock made his fortune by taking what worked in one market and applying it in other markets. For whatever reasons, the WC is a uniquely American phenomena, the model doesn’t work elsewhere in the world. So I very much doubt Murdock will be a buyer.

  12. Bill in Vigo says:

    Hey Andrew,
    I’m a minister and I don’t have time for TWC. I don’t buy MMGW, and exveep Gore and Dr Cullen aren’t saints. Un like some folks I think the earth is a sphere and not flat or square. Just want you to know that all of us aren’t of the alarmistend of the world by global warming by man. Maybe by some other reason but not by man.

    Bill

  13. Joe says:

    Henry, the last three or four seasons, I’ve consulted what I call “The Navy Site” when a storm needs watching.
    http://www.nrlmry.navy.mil/tc_pages/tc_home.html

  14. Jeff says:

    I can only guess that Divinity school teaches one how to dupe people. In reality republicans are mostly non-alarmists, so most religious people are not on Gore’s side, at least in the US.

  15. Andrew says:

    Jeff, Bill, I meant the subject of study, not religion in general. ;)

  16. Evan Jones says:

    I’m an atheist and believe that man is perfectly capable of affecting the climate. I’m sure we have.

    OTOH, current AGW theory appears to be just plain old wrong. Or at least mostly wrong (as the pum-pums and voodoo masters measure their heat sinks and waste heat and carefully adjust it upward . . .).

    But even an atheist has his beliefs!

    Try this one:

    As mankind approaches Childhood’s End (inre. old age at any rate), we will acquire powers Horatio never dreamed of. We shall remake our world. We, my brothers, may or may not be there to see it. But if it is not this generation, it will surely be the next. If we can hang on till, oh, 2025, quien sabe? Anything is possible. Anything.

    It will be cool if we’re the ones! Being a charter member of The First of the Last, the Elder Statesmen of Hhumanity would have some interesting benefits–not all of them Social Security! (Think patrician of Rome AEternal. Imagine the responsibilities!)

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