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Weather war on the air

Verizon ditches Weather Channel for new cable player -- AccuWeather.

AccuWeather founder Joel Myers told us last year that, yes, he had some regrets about not jumping into the cable-TV business back in 1982 when something called The Weather Channel went on the air and grew into a cash machine.

On March 10, 2015, more than three decades later, let the record show that AccuWeather officially – and very quietly – entered the cable-TV business.

And we mean quietly.

The announcement didn't come from the State College weather behemoth, but from Verizon FIOS, which informed its 5.6 million subscribers that it was dumping The Weather Channel in favor of the nascent AccuWeather venture.

"It's all weather, all the time," said CEO Barry Myers, "no fat guys in the woods, reality TV .. fluff. … The focus will be on weather, not personalities."

We caught a few minutes of it this afternoon on Channel  119 (also available on 619), and found that Barry Myers was true to his word, particularly on the latter point.

The on-air folks were brief and to the point, the graphics sparse, and no one was named. We did take note of a female weather-caster who, shall we say, wasn't quite dressed for a snowstorm.

We saw a commercial for something called a "Grab Bag" -- not bad -- and a news segment on starving sea lions, otherwise,  the fare consisted of weather people, in front of images of Boston, New York, or Philadelphia, simply talking about what was coming.

We're not sure when the weather segments were taped, but shortly after 1 we were informed that rain would arrive in New York by the afternoon, followed a few minutes later by a radar image that showed rain was hours away.

Over time, Barry Myers said, no doubt some of the on-air people will develop followings, but clearly AccuWeather is taking pains to differentiate itself from its mega-rival.

As for why Verizon FIOS decided to break ties with TWC, if we could distill Verizon's public reasoning to three words, they would be: Who Needs It?

"Technology has dramatically shifted the delivery of both routine and critical weather information over the past 30 years or so," Verizon said in a statement passed along to us by spokesman Robert Elek.

"You can get forecasts, radar, warnings and more in the palm of your hand. ... "

While reducing costs was a factor, "To be clear – this is not a contract dispute, it is a decision," the Verizon statement said.

Verizon officials "made it clear to us that they no longer wish to negotiate​,​ despite our desire to continue to serve their subscribers," The Weather Channel said in a statement.

It said it was  "surprised" by the decision, adding, "We urge FiOS customers to contact Verizon and voice their displeasure."