C-SPAN interrupts Nashville tornado warnings on Comcast
March 18, 2013 05:47 PM
Reported By Chris Bundgaard, Reporter - bio | email
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -
Hundreds of thousands of people watching tornado warnings on Monday morning news stations via Comcast suddenly saw the coverage interrupted by C-SPAN for several minutes.
Comcast typically interrupts all of its programming channels with its Emergency Alert System (EAS) when there is a tornado warning, but in Monday morning's case, the warning lasted only a few moments before a C-SPAN interview with tax reformer Grover Norquist popped up.
Ironically, anyone watching program channels on Comcast Saturday night shortly after 9 p.m. saw a similar interruption for around a half hour when the EAS system came on, but was quickly replaced by C-SPAN broadcasting a speech by former vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin.
One of those watching was Williamson County resident Vernon Boes.
"There was no bad weather, but the cable box said EAS," Boes told Nashville's News 2.
He continued, "My wife and I were saying if there is a real emergency, this would not be good because then you are frozen watching C-SPAN and you can't get over to your local channel to see what's going on."
However, that is exactly what happened Monday morning shortly after 8 a.m. when the first of a series of tornado warnings for Middle Tennessee were issued.
"The EAS kicked in again, and after a few moments flipped back to C-SPAN, then EAS and back to C-SPAN for several minutes," Boes recounted to Nashville's News 2. "We tried changing the channel, but it was locked into C-SPAN for about 15 minutes."
Boes said the biggest thing is safety and security.
"It's scary that if I was up in Dickson County [where the first tornado warning was], and I could not get to the local news station to find out what is going on for 15-minutes, that is pretty dangerous stuff," he expressed.
The company was flooded with calls after Saturday night's mistake and lit up Facebook with comments.
Comcast spokesperson Sara Jo Houghland released the following statemeny:
"The Comcast cable system serving Middle Tennessee has experienced a problem with its emergency alert system. Impacted customers had their equipment locked onto CSPAN until Comcast personnel were able to resolve the problem shortly thereafter. The company is working diligently to find the root cause of the matter. We apologize for the inconvenience this disruption caused our customers."
As of late Monday afternoon, Comcast had released no other information about what happened.
Vernon Boes said he got a call back from Comcast after the Saturday episode where Sarah Palin was speaking on C-SPAN.
"We were offered two free movie tickets," he said with a laugh.