Montag, 13. Juli 2009

Max Headroom Broadcast

The Max Headroom broadcast signal intrusion incident was a television signal hijacking in Chicago, Illinois, on the evening of November 22, 1987; it is an example of what is known in the television business as broadcast signal intrusion. The intruder was successful in interrupting two television stations within three hours. Neither the hijacker nor his accomplices have ever been found or identified.
The first occurrence of the signal intrusion took place during WGN-TV's News at Nine. During Bears highlights in the sports report, the station's signal was interrupted by a video of a person wearing a Max Headroom mask,standing or sitting in front of a swaying sheet of corrugated metal imitating the background effect in the Max Headroom TV and movie appearances. There was no audio, only a buzzing noise. The hijack was stopped after 20 seconds when WGN switched the modulation of their studio link to the John Hancock Center transmitter. The incident left sports reporter Dan Roan flustered, saying, "Well, if you're wondering what happened, so am I." Later that night, around 11:15 p.m., during a broadcast of the Doctor Who serial Horror of Fang Rock, PBS station WTTW's signal was hijacked using the same video that was broadcast during the WGN-TV hijack, this time with distorted audio. The person in the Max Headroom mask appeared, as before, this time saying, "That does it. He's a freakin' nerd," before laughing and jeering, "Yeah, I think I'm better than Chuck Swirsky. Freakin' liberal." The unidentified man continued to utter random phrases, including New Coke's advertising slogan "Catch the Wave" while holding a Pepsi can (Max Headroom was a Coca-Cola spokesperson at the time), then tossing the can down, and making an obscene gesture with a rubber extension over his middle finger (the gesture was cut off of the bottom of the screen due to the close-up of the camera) then retrieving the Pepsi can, and saying "Your love is fading", before removing the rubber extension, then began humming the theme song to Clutch Cargo, and stating that he had "made a giant masterpiece for all the greatest world newspaper nerds" (the call letters WGN are an abbreviation for "World's Greatest Newspaper", in reference to the Tribune Company's Chicago Tribune). He then held up a glove, said "my brother is wearing the other one", and put the glove on. He then took the glove off, adding that it was "dirty."
The picture suddenly cut over to a shot of the man's lower torso. His buttocks were exposed, and he was holding the now-removed mask up to the camera while being spanked with a flyswatter by an unidentified accomplice wearing a dress, as the man exclaimed "They're coming to get me!". The accomplice then said, "Bend over, bitch!" The man then said, "Do it!" and moaned. The transmission then blacked out and cut off, and the hijack was over after about 90 seconds.
WTTW, which maintains its transmitter atop the Sears Tower, found that its engineers were unable to stop the hijacker because at the time there were no engineers on duty at the Sears Tower. Also, the station's master control center was unable to contact its transmitting equipment remotely to switch the studio/transmitter link, unlike their counterparts at WGN-TV, who were able to thwart the intruder by switching their John Hancock Center studio/transmitter link remotely within seconds. The Max Headroom incident made national headlines and was reported on the CBS Evening News the next day.
WTTW and WGN-TV joined HBO as victims of broadcast signal intrusion.There was not another verified intrusion incident of this kind in the United States until February 1, 2009, when Comcast customers in Tucson, Arizona, had Super Bowl XLIII interrupted for 30 seconds by an adult channel.
Not long after the incident, WMAQ-TV humorously inserted clips of the hijacking into a newscast during Mark Giangreco's sports highlights.

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