Comcast Cable customers' televisions were stuck on C-SPAN for several minutes Tuesday night after the cable provider ran an Amber Alert for a missing Spring Hill boy.
Comcast televised the alert, as it is required to do, around 8:30 p.m. When the provider attempted to switch back to normal programming, most subscribers were forced to watch C-SPAN for close to 15 minutes.
A similar incident occurred in March during a severe weather outbreak. Instead of getting vital weather information from media outlets like News 2, Comcast customers were locked into C-SPAN after the cable provider broadcast a tornado warning through the Emergency Alert System.
In speaking with News 2 Wednesday about the issue, Whit Adamson, president of the Tennessee Association of Broadcasters, said “someone will have to die” before Comcast upgrades its equipment.
Following the March incident, Comcast spokesperson Sara Jo Houghland told News 2 the company was “experiencing a problem with its Emergency Alert System” and was “working diligently to find the root cause of the matter.”
Now, six months later, Adamson blames “cheap equipment” that Comcast has chosen not to upgrade. He said the problem expands beyond Middle Tennessee.
“It's a national problem. It is everywhere Comcast is located,” he during a phone interview Wednesday.
Adamson added that it is up to Comcast to fix the problem.
“I just can't tell you what we can do about it because it is up to them and right now they just choose not to do anything,” he said.
Adamson has taken the issue all the way to Comcast's corporate headquarters in Philadelphia. He has also brought the issue before legislators like Marsha Blackburn.
Nashville viewer Derek Gibson was affected Tuesday night. He told News 2 he would have been concerned about safety if the alert was about severe weather.
He said, “If it was a tornado I would like to know if it was coming my way. I'm not a Comcast fan. I wish they would update their equipment and get this fixed. Why should someone have to die? Just fix it.”
In a statement sent to News 2 Wednesday afternoon, Houghland again blamed the Emergency Alert System for the problem.
“We have been investigating this issue and plan to install a new EAS system as soon as possible, to prevent this from happening again,” the statement read. “We apologize to our customers for the inconvenience.”
Comcast customers who experienced the problem Tuesday night are encouraged to call Comcast at 1-800-934-6489 or file a complaint online at Comcast.com.
- March 18, 2013: C-SPAN interrupts Nashville tornado warnings on Comcast