Broadcast flags for weekend football

Published 12:03am Tuesday, January 14, 2014

NATCHEZ — Football fans in the Miss-Lou might have missed portions of key playoff games Saturday and Sunday because of technical errors by the broadcasting and cable companies.

Sharon Rachal, general manager of WNTZ-TV Fox 48, which transmits throughout the Natchez and Alexandria, La., area, said the company’s microwave transmitter failed at approximately 11 a.m. Saturday.

The New Orleans Saints were slated to take on the Seattle Seahawks in the NFC divisional playoffs at 3:35 p.m.

“Our chief engineer headed to the site immediately and was able to swap out the microwave transmitter with a backup to have WNTZ back on the air by 2:05 p.m. — prior to the pregame show that aired from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m.,” Rachal said. “During this time and during the game, WNTZ’s engineer was in constant contact with technicians with providers in the Natchez area who work with equipment on their end to ensure they are registering the resets.”

Late in the game Saturday, Rachal said WNTZ experienced atmospheric interference that caused disruption of the signal.

“The interference did not last long, but may not have been registered immediately by the providers’ equipment,” Rachal said.

The interference caused picture and sound on the Saints game to break up in the fourth quarter of the game.

On Sunday, the broadcast of the NFC divisional playoffs featuring the San Francisco 49ers versus the Carolina Panthers was scheduled at noon.

Nearly an hour into the game, the broadcast of the game switched to a different network for nearly 20 minutes.

Rachal said the issue Sunday was unrelated to the one Saturday, and WNTZ was working with local providers, including Cable One, to determine what happened.

“Broadcaster, cable operator and satellite operator’s equipment are very sensitive to changing conditions, external influences, etc. and sometimes do not automatically reset/reboot/rebuffer,” Rachal said. “Technology is both a blessing and a curse when it comes to delivering a quality, high-definition signal to the viewers and/or providers who then present our signal to our viewers.

“We are working closely with all providers to figure out on a provider-by-provider basis which works best for their customers/our viewers.”

Cable One General Manager John Hilbert said the issue from Sunday was likely caused by a different signal taking over the place of one that had lost signal.

“Once our local technician made it to the site to investigate, the problem had fixed itself,” Hilbert said.