TV hijacking, Panic on

TV hijacking

Youtube, or as we could call it the place of DIY TV, publishes also on the web a huge quantity of rare videos. One of these rarities is the hijacking of the Chicago commercial TV channel WGN-TV that took place in 1987.
While the evening news were on, the daily sport report was interrupted for half a minute and the signal replaced by the sinister and familiar visage of Max Headroom. On-site technicians reacted promptly by switching to an alternate transmitter, but two hours after the first unplanned detour from normality, the weird mask interrupted again an episode of Doctor Who for several minutes. Despite FBI investigations, the pirate identity is still unknown. His motivation for this nonsense rant was even more puzzling than his method. The symphony of strangeness reached its crescendo when the rubber-masked impostor dropped his trousers, exposed his backside, and weathered a spirited fly swatter spanking from a female assistant. Considering the absence of claims, the risk the impostor took was significant because at that time the law allowed for a maximum penalty of 100,000 USD and one year in prison for such signal piracy. This American action lacks clearness especially when compared with the sabotage actions of the Red Brigades who, in early 70s in Italy, illegally broadcasted their theories in north regions on the same midday national news broadcast frequencies. However the strategy is quite similar, the strategy of tension based on terror generated by arbitrarily inoculating content in TV transmissions. Going back to YouTube: they made possible an online broadcasting giving access to infinite video materials and reaching an audience as big as the TV one. So it’s natural to wonder whether in the future it will be necessary to hijack YouTube as well. Are we sure that what was born as an alternative strategy to the old broadcasting is not destinated to the same mere commercial scheme?

Valentina Culatti