TV glitch puts big play on air

October 29, 1990|By Ray Frager

The problem was not with your set.

If you were watching Channel 11 about 4 p.m. yesterday, it may have gotten a little confusing. At about 3:50 p.m., the announcement was made of an imminent switch from the end of the Philadelphia Eagles-Dallas Cowboys game to the beginning of the Washington Redskins-New York Giants game. Because Channel 11 is considered a Redskins station, it was contractually bound to carry the start of the game.

However, the Eagles were driving for what would turn out to be the winning touchdown in a 21-20 victory, and the game was not going to end at 4 p.m., when the switch was supposed to occur.

Here's what happened, according to Channel 11 programming director Emerson Coleman:

At 4, Channel 11 went to a 94-second break, leaving live action in the Eagles-Cowboys game, to set up its switch to the Redskins. However, WBAL's master control did not get word from CBS in New York that the network was ready to send the Redskins-Giants signal.

Coleman called the control room at his station, and, hearing that there had been no cue to switch signals, told the engineers to come back to the Eagles-Cowboys. So, Channel 11 returned in time to show the Eagles scoring the touchdown.

After the score, CBS told Channel 11 that it was time to hook up for the Redskins, which it did. One problem: There was a glitch with the signal, so viewers saw a CBS logo -- called a "slide" -- on their screens for several seconds before the Redskins and Giants were joined in progress.

Coleman said, "After the score, that was the longest we could stay."

Once the station receives the cue, he said, it must switch.

If you were watching Channel 9 from Washington, there was a more aggravating situation. That station made the switch at 4, only to have nothing to show viewers but a logo. So, not only did Channel 9 not carry the Eagles' winning score, but it also didn't have the start of the Redskins game because of a signal problem.

"If we had switched when we were supposed to [at 4], we would have been sitting on a slide," Coleman said.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.