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2 channels interrupted to the Max

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1987-11-24 Chicago Sun-Times.jpg


Federal Communications Commission official are seeking to unmask a phony Max Headroom.

A video pirate disguised as the high-tech television character illegally invaded TV airwaves Sunday night to interrupt briefly programming at WGN-Channel 9 and WTTW-Channel 11.

At the end of the 1-minute-28-second interruption of "Dr. Who" on Channel 11, the Headroom character appeared to have his pants down while being spanked with a fly swatter or spatula.

FCC officials are seeking the person behind the Headroom mask. If caught, that person and any others involved could face up to $100,000 in fines and a year in jail, said FCC spokeswoman Christine Jelinek.

Additional federal obscenity charges could also be brought by the U.S. attorney's office, Jelinek said.

The ABC ""Max Headroom" series has been canceled.

The first interruption came during Bears highlight, on the 9 p.m. newscast of Channel 9. The intruding broadcast. which appeared only in the Chicago ores. showed the Headroom character rocking back and forth with hands held in the air. It played for 7.. seconds until K'GN workers changed !run-mission paths.

That same 25 seconds apparently aired on Channel 11 and continued for about a minute longer. "It was not broadcast quality," said Anders Yocom. WTTW vice president of corporate communications, and the character "was uttering words and phrases almost impossible la understand."

Yocum said changes have been made at the station that are designed to frustrate interruptions.

"It was exactly the same video shown on both stations, but on Channel 9 it ended after about 25 seconds," said Bill Baxman, 38, of Des Plaines, who was watching each channel when the interruption occurred.

Baxman said the Headroom character appeared in front of a "zigzaggy background of stripes... I was watching 'Dr. Who' when all of a sudden it came on again.

"I thought it was, you know, a little cute for the time, but when you think about it, it's not that cute. They could he interrupting something extremely important."

FCC spokesman Jelinek said much of the sound on recordings of the incidents is incoherent. Jelinek explained that the FCC uses monitoring equipment in trace such illegal broadcasts, but it generally requires an interruption of several minutes. The monitoring, however, is done only randomly.

"It's pretty apparent it was bleat," said Robert Strutzel, WGN director of engineering. Strutzel explained that the intrusions could have come from a high-rise apartment or a roof between the WGX transmitter on the Northwest Side at 2501 W. Bradley and its antenna atop the Hancock Building.

"It's not the kind of thing that's done by somebody in his basement," Strutzel said. "It's sophisticated microwave equipment at pretty high power levels to overcome our installation. And the room tin error is very small."

Commercial-grade equipment of this sort would cost around $25,000 and could be carried in a few suitcases. he said—or the equipment could be rented.

Caption: The phony Max Headroom as he appeared on television Sunday night.

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  • APA 6th ed.: Hayner, Don (1987-11-24). 2 channels interrupted to the Max. Chicago Sun-Times .
  • MLA 7th ed.: Hayner, Don. "2 channels interrupted to the Max." Chicago Sun-Times [add city] 1987-11-24. Print.
  • Chicago 15th ed.: Hayner, Don. "2 channels interrupted to the Max." Chicago Sun-Times, edition, sec., 1987-11-24
  • Turabian: Hayner, Don. "2 channels interrupted to the Max." Chicago Sun-Times, 1987-11-24, section, edition.
  • Wikipedia (this article): <ref>{{cite news| title=2 channels interrupted to the Max | url= | work=Chicago Sun-Times | pages= | date=1987-11-24 | via=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=10 December 2023 }}</ref>
  • Wikipedia (this page): <ref>{{cite web | title=2 channels interrupted to the Max | url= | work=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=10 December 2023}}</ref>