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Chi TV Pirate Causes Worry Over Security

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1987-12-02 Variety.jpg


Chicago — Chicago tv stations are taking a closer look at their signal security as a result of last week's "pirate" insertion of a bizarre tape into WGN-TV and WTTW-TV's regular programming.

The tape, which occupied about a minute of time on WGN-TV's 9 p.m. news and about two minutes on "Dr. Who" on WTTW-TV, featured a character wearing a Max Headroom rubber mask in front of a zigzag electronic background. The pirate had time only to mumble something unintelligible on WGN-TV, but on WTTW-TV he followed with a skit on which he dropped his pants and was swatted on the behind with a flyswatter.

It is not being taken lightly by any of the tv stations, and while none would speak for attribution, it is widely held that the likeliest candidate is someone who currently works for a station.

Logs for each of the station's mini-vans are being closely studied to see if any were in the area at the time of the incident.

The two stations involved also have sent tapes of the piracy to the FCC, which might be able to trace the source through the electronic "footprint" of the tape. The technique was used successfully in Miami, when a pirate intercepted a satellite signal and substituted his own.

The Chicago case was done with greater case, causing the stations to look for remedies. When the stations moved from phone lines to microwave a dozen years ago, it was seen as a simpler and cost-effective way of getting the signal from the studio to the tower. Now, the piracy is causing the stations to take a second look. The most promising solution — fiber optic cables — also is the most expensive, although WMAQ-TV is considering it for its new layout in the NBC Chicago building now under construction east of Michigan Avenue.

Engineers at several of the stations arc convinced the pirate signal emanated from a mini-van, one owned either by one of the five principal stations or one of the several rental units available in the city. "The equipment to do this would cost between $25-440,000," one engineer said. "so we're pretty much convinced someone didn't go down to Radio Shack and but it just for this one gag and there's not much other use for it. What is certain is that it required someone who is familiar with station technical operations."

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  • APA 6th ed.: (1987-12-02). Chi TV Pirate Causes Worry Over Security. Variety p. 40.
  • MLA 7th ed.: "Chi TV Pirate Causes Worry Over Security." Variety [add city] 1987-12-02, 40. Print.
  • Chicago 15th ed.: "Chi TV Pirate Causes Worry Over Security." Variety, edition, sec., 1987-12-02
  • Turabian: "Chi TV Pirate Causes Worry Over Security." Variety, 1987-12-02, section, 40 edition.
  • Wikipedia (this article): <ref>{{cite news| title=Chi TV Pirate Causes Worry Over Security | url= | work=Variety | pages=40 | date=1987-12-02 | via=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=25 January 2021 }}</ref>
  • Wikipedia (this page): <ref>{{cite web | title=Chi TV Pirate Causes Worry Over Security | url= | work=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=25 January 2021}}</ref>