TV weather bulletin blacked out historic Preakness race victory

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It was the first time a filly won the Preakness Stakes in 85 years, but Comcast cable TV viewers in the Augusta area missed seeing Rachel Alexandra's historic victory in Saturday's Preakness Stakes.

The Emergency Alert System was activated just as the race was beginning with a warning for bad weather in Burke County.

That alert blacked out the TV picture and sound for Comcast cable customers just seconds after the race began. When the programming returned minutes later, the race was over, and TV announcers were describing its exciting finish.

A Comcast customer service representative said Saturday by phone that the alert "is something put into place by Richmond and Columbia counties." They have no control over it. "It's supplied directly from Public Safety and Homeland Security."

Other cable customers in the area did not report a weather alert disruption.

Comments (23) Add comment
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El Guapo
0
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El Guapo 05/17/09 - 11:38 am
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Yep. Most TV and radio

Yep. Most TV and radio stations have a "box" installed on their systems that allow public safety officials to break into programming to put out alerts. Stations have no control over when it happens.

Nero
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Nero 05/17/09 - 11:42 am
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It's okay. The AC promptly

It's okay. The AC promptly updated their online edition to give the race results while blissfully ignoring the weather WARNING and the triple shooting and murder on Gordon Hwy. It's just a matter of priorities I suppose.

humbleopinion
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humbleopinion 05/17/09 - 11:48 am
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It was Obama's fault.

It was Obama's fault.

humbleopinion
0
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humbleopinion 05/17/09 - 11:50 am
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Nancy Pelosi lied about it.

Nancy Pelosi lied about it.

HillGuy
7
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HillGuy 05/17/09 - 11:54 am
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Is it really necessary to

Is it really necessary to blackout the picture to give a "weather alert"?/ I remember when they used to give these alerts by having a crawl at the bottom of the screen and a short audio announcement (for visually impaired).

Frank
3
Points
Frank 05/17/09 - 12:05 pm
0
0
talk to your local Emergency

talk to your local Emergency Management director.. they're the ones that create what is displayed.. I figure she'd like to get on the news too..

Nero
0
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Nero 05/17/09 - 12:12 pm
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The Emergency Broadcast

The Emergency Broadcast System is a federal program. There is no choice for local EMD's or broadcast stations. The AC had the choice on which stories to cover. The Preakness won. But today we are told "It should rain later today". If we have the best paper in the state, there are lots of folks hurting elsewhere.

momma mia
2
Points
momma mia 05/17/09 - 12:36 pm
0
0
We never had a problem with

We never had a problem with Comcast taking control of broadcasts with these ridiculous "emergency" announcements before the switch to all digital television. I've been very tempted to drop Comcast completely and install a satellite dish. Maybe then television programs wouldn't be interrupted. I don't need a cable company warning me about potential danger which is usually just a bunch of ridiculous nonsense.

mad_max
0
Points
mad_max 05/17/09 - 01:01 pm
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So why is a thunderstorm

So why is a thunderstorm warning for Burke county blanking out TVs in Richmond and Columbia counties? Even a $20 Radio Shack receiver can be programmed with Specific Area Message Encoding (SAME) codes to only break in if the warning applies to your county. Sounds like Comcast needs more than one box on their trunk lines so that only TVs in the target county are affected. Or, as I have always suspected, is Comcast not technically competent enough to accomplish this simple programming and maybe plug a wire or two into a different socket? Funny though, I watched the race on local over the air TV and the T-Storm warning for Burke was a scroll and I saw all of the race. Maybe Comcast lies. Did they get the BAD box and all of the over the air, fiber optic, and other cable systems get the GOOD box? As the old GIs would say, "Adjust Operator Head Space".

alinchron
15
Points
alinchron 05/17/09 - 01:06 pm
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C'mon, Chronicle! Stand up

C'mon, Chronicle! Stand up and be a real newspaper for once by digging in and getting the true story behind this travesty. If it's something "put into place by Richmond and Columbia counties" and "supplied directly from Public Safety and Homeland Security," as the lying Comcast CSR suggests, then why did "other cable customers in the area not report a weather alert disruption"? Huge hole in your story. Dig down and get to the bottom of it. The real issue is why is live programming being interrupted to force viewers to hear about a thunderstorm 50 miles away? And why is half the message time taken up by beeps and squawks? What happens when it's the final seconds of a major sporting event such as an NBA championship, high-stakes college football game, or World Series? As one of your previous readers has pointed out, the message can be just as effectively communicated with a crawl across the bottom of the screen and a brief audio announcement. Or the viewer can be referred to Ch. 4, which is what used to happen in such instances. Get the story here, Chronicle, and give it to your readers. That's what good newspapers do. Giving us only part of the story does us a tremendous disservice.

Nero
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Nero 05/17/09 - 01:07 pm
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Federal Government (FCC) in

Federal Government (FCC) in conjunction with National Weather Service, and local broadcast stations (which cable companies are required to carry). Y'all are barking up the wrong tree.

teapot
0
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teapot 05/17/09 - 02:20 pm
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it was such a tragic event,

it was such a tragic event, not seeing this historic race result. It was only shown 150 times(in rerun/reporting) afterwards.

kinda like when Heidi blocked out "Broadway Joe" and the Jets.

colcamp1
10
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colcamp1 05/17/09 - 02:21 pm
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I guess you had rather be

I guess you had rather be killed, than miss the finish of a horse race?

hockeymann
226
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hockeymann 05/17/09 - 02:27 pm
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Doesn't excuse Pelosi lying

Doesn't excuse Pelosi lying about this...

wcr250
71
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wcr250 05/17/09 - 02:31 pm
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Pelosi Is a liar Period

Pelosi Is a liar Period

Lp_J
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Lp_J 05/17/09 - 02:38 pm
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just go back to the old

just go back to the old system on this system you cant even change the station

alinchron
15
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alinchron 05/17/09 - 02:50 pm
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Then which tree is it, Nero?

Then which tree is it, Nero? If what you say is true, then why did only Comcast customers encounter the problem? Did you not read mad max's comment, in which he pointed out that he was able to watch the race without interruption on a local broadcast station? Get your arrogant head out of the sand.

You miss the point entirely, teapot and colcamp1. Viewers should not be FORCED to watch a message in which they have no interest--and to watch letters on a screen and listen to sqawking before and after the message is delivered. As has already been pointed out here, there are other options for effectively communicating weather threats--both real and imagined--without interrupting live programming.

Again, the Chronicle should step up and find out why this is happening, instead of publishing an incomplete, contradictory story about it.

CoastalDawg
125
Points
CoastalDawg 05/17/09 - 03:31 pm
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I was told by a Comcast

I was told by a Comcast representative a few weeks ago that the warning "system" if you want to call it that was put into effect by the local emergency warning folks and that they had total control over it. On one recent night the "warning" got stuck and the total system had a blue screen for over 30 minutes until, I suppose, the local Comcast people could finally reach the responsible party. There used to be and still is a channel set aside for such warnings and the interruption should tell subscribers to tune to that station but instead EVERY station is interrupted while we are "warned" about a thunderstorm or a flash flood warning somewhere in Scrondu Egypt. It is ridiculous in this day and time not to have some way to do this "warning" business about every thunderstorm or possible piece of hail without totally shutting down the television system; if the "big one" ever happens we are all going to be so desensitized to these cries of "wolf" that we are likely to ignore the real thing. Does Knology have this same problem or is it just Comcast? I have a weather radio that blares out almost every cloud in the sky for three counties just before the TV does the same.

HillGuy
7
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HillGuy 05/17/09 - 04:03 pm
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Then why didn't the local

Then why didn't the local networks have to comply with this "warning system".. if all broadcasters were forced to comply with this mandate? Why was only Comcast affected? And this was specific to Burke County.. can't they direct this alert for only the county affected by the storm? We have thunderstorms all the time in the CSRA in the spring.. are they going to blackout our signal everytime there is a thunderstorm in some part of the CSRA. I mean this is ridiculous. There are better and less obtrusive ways to give weather alerts over TV.

thistownisunbelievable
1
Points
thistownisunbelievable 05/17/09 - 04:12 pm
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0
Good point Hillguy. Its

Good point Hillguy. Its Comcastic! At least I found out it was going to be raining hard down in Burke County. Really useful news in Augusta.

MaskedMan
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MaskedMan 05/17/09 - 06:04 pm
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Why isn't the on screen

Why isn't the on screen warning in the corner enough?? I am SICKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKK of these nutjobs and that noise. Comcast is terrible, but it's all I'm allowed to get in the subdivision I live in. And like Hillguy and others said, it was in Burke Cty!! A strip across the top should work. i LOVE horse racing and had been looking forward to this race for a week. After a good start, THAT came up and I wanted to walk into Comcast and go nuts. We have weather channels, internets weather sites....let US decide which way we want to be informed. And for those that cry out.."How about the poor that don't have the internet?" Well, they have been that way all of their lives!!

disssman
6
Points
disssman 05/17/09 - 06:49 pm
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Oh yeah this problem will

Oh yeah this problem will make me loose sleep for at least a week.

Mulanrouge25
1
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Mulanrouge25 05/17/09 - 10:40 pm
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The stations have not been

The stations have not been converted to all digital broadcasting. It was delayed until June so can't blame it on that..

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