NEW YORK (AP) — It turns out the bombs bursting in air over Washington for PBS’ presentation of “A Capitol Fourth” were, at least in part, reruns.
The public broadcasting service said Tuesday that it should have informed viewers that footage from previous years’ fireworks displays were used on its ostensibly live program the night before. On a cloudy, misty evening in Washington where it was hard to fully see the display, the Capital Concerts production company cut in with some fireworks from a clear night.
Viewers, particularly those in soggy Washington, quickly noticed the difference and took to social media to criticize PBS.
PBS ombudsman Michael Getler on Tuesday called it a “widespread, and proper, bashing.”
He wrote that it was “sort of mind-boggling” that producers couldn’t have taken a few seconds to inform viewers that earlier clips were being used to accompany the live music. Capital Concerts obviously had to prepare in advance to have the footage available in case the weather forecast for a lousy night turned out to be true.
Capital Concerts initially tweeted that its decision to fake the fireworks was “the patriotic thing to do,” then apologized later in the evening.
PBS said it has told the independent production company that it should have acknowledged use of the footage during the broadcast. An onscreen notice has been placed on its version of the program available online.