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The Story Of The Weather Channel, A Bidding War and A Sex Scandal

By KJ Mullins     May 9, 2008 in Entertainment
What happens when a television channel starts looking around for the highest bidder? The Weather Channel did just that at the beginning of the year saying they could bring someone at least $5 billion in sales.
When the story broke on the New York Times that the Weather Channel and its website were out looking for a new owner people started to check the place out.
Within days it had the interest of General Electric; the News Corporation; and Comcast.
What's at stake here? One of the few remaining basic cable stations. A station that is widely watched and as one potential buyer stated the equivalent of "beachfront property" in the virtual scheme of things.
With climate change looming the station will only increase in viewers. Advertisers love this place. There are a lot of professional employees who know their stuff already in place. Heck Weather Channel employees 125 meteorologists.
Now if the television station wasn't tempting enough they threw in their web site. A web site that is ranked the 18th largest media site by traffic. Last November they had a total of 32 million unique users.
Psst....that beats out those little guys like and Facebook.
This seems like a no brainer for investors right?
It is except for this little, tiny sexual goof that is playing out behind the scenes.
Back in 2003 Hillary Andrews was hired to co-host along side Bob Stokes for the prime-time weekend show for The Weather Channel. She was brought in because the previous host had complained about hostile and abusive behaviour. That lucky anchor got shoved off into the nowhere land of late night TV.
Stokes never even got a slap on the hand for being the naughty boy in this picture. After all he did make the ratings and the public liked him so behind the scenes acting up was overlooked.
Now Ms. Andrews is a pretty lady so Mr. Stokes decided to hit on her. Andrews wasn't interested. Stokes didn't give up and tried to use his standing with the show to get her to change her mind. It didn't work. Andrews now was being sexually harassed on a daily basis. Still because he was a big time player with the show she didn't have a foot to stand on when she complained. It's not like the execs were blind to what was going on.
Managers at The Weather Channel often thanked Ms. Andrews for “working with Bob, “getting along with Bob,” and “putting up with Bob.”
Finally the water cooler rumors reached beyond the ears of the 'powers that be' about Ms. Andrew's not being able to take Stokes behaviour anymore. She got the word that her three year contract wasn't going to be renewed. Next step, they moved her from the desk with Stokes for a series of lousy shifts and assignments. Funny, these moves were the same ones that the company had used with the previous co-anchor.
Ms. Andrews isn't stupid. Before her contract was up she filed a demand for arbitration according to her contract with The Weather Channel. Her complaint? The company TWC allowed Bob Stokes to sexually harass her.
She won. On January 31st, 2008 the arbitrator issued an award of an undisclosed amount to Ms. Stokes.
For some reason the Weather Channel doesn't want this little story out in the media while a bidding war is going on. They want that 17 pages of arbitration hidden until they get a new owner.
Oops, I think I just helped with the other media sources spill the beans.
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