A vice president for WPSD Local 6, which broadcast Super Bowl XLIX locally, apologized on Sunday night for the three separate outages that occurred lasting several minutes each during the year’s biggest game, as well as the post-game.
Bill Evans, vice president of news and operations, said the outages will be investigated further on Monday, but the station initially believed that the outages were related to a major house fire near one of its substations in Ballard County, Kentucky.
Evans said the station’s chief engineer responded immediately to reports of the first outage, and headed out to the station’s transmitter located in Monkeys Eyebrow, Kentucky.
“On his way to responding to the outage, he came upon a fully engulfed house fire with fire fighters and ambulances,” Evans said. “This house fire may have had an impact on the substation, which caused a spike or a dip and caused our transmitter to go into -- for lack of a better word -- a safe mode, to protect from surges.”
Evans said it’s just a “working hypothesis” that the fully engulfed house fire may have impacted the electrical grid. He said the station was able to restart the transmitter from a smart phone app. But it takes between 10 and 12 minutes to recycle itself, he said.
In addition to the three longer outages, there also were several shorter outages throughout the game, WPSD said in a statement.
The outages affected many game watchers across Southern Illinois, including those tuning in via air channel, cable and satellite. WPSD is the NBC-affiliated station for Western Kentucky, Southern Illinois and the Missouri Bootheel.
With each outage, people took to Facebook and Twitter in droves to express concern -- as well as outrage.
During the first outage, WPSD posted on its Facebook page: “We know that some of you are having issues watching the game. We are working on fixing this issue.”
The station’s status was updated again to say: “We apologize, but we are still having problems with our signals. We have engineers working on the issue.”
Hundreds of people responded to the station’s posts. And most did not take kindly to the interruption of the matchup between the Seattle Seahawks and New England Patriots.
Said one poster: “How come it never happens when Obama is on there?”
And another: “You don’t have ‘engineers’ working on anything...You have idiots ruining the most watched program of the year -- your advertisers must love you guys.”
And another: “Who cares about deflategate #signalgate.”
And there were plenty along the lines of this poster: “Unacceptable. No apology is gonna help here.”
Evans said that to those upset with the station, “We apologize for the outages.” He said investigation into the cause will continue next week.
“If it turns out to be tied to this house fire in which a family may have lost their home, I think there are other issues we need to look at,” Evans said.
The Patriots won the game, 28-24.