TV Sends Out Distress Signal

Ken AshfordPopular CultureLeave a Comment

Ah, modern technology:

British military choppers searched the English Channel for hours this month after receiving a distress call relayed from space.

A military base in Scotland — 650 miles away — picked up the signal on Jan. 5, relayed by satellite. Something terrible had surely happened, and rescue teams were rushed out to find the victims.

But there was no downed plane and no sinking ship. The emergency call was eventually traced to a common television receiver in a Portsmouth home.

The surprised owner of the television receiver was soon visited by the authorities.

Royal Air Force spokesman Michael Mulford said the incident was just plain weird.

"This is very, very unusual, it’s a complete freak and the odds of a digibox sending out such a signal must be astronomical," Mulford told the BBC.

The unidentified owner in Portsmouth was asked to give up his TV receiver and he complied. Experts will test the device to see how it happened to produce a Mayday signal that could be heard in space.

Consumer TV equipment sometimes just goes nuts.

In October 2004, an Oregon man’s Toshiba television sent a distress signal that was picked up by satellite and relayed to the Air Force Rescue Center at Virginia’s Langley Air Force Base.

The freak TV’s owner was 20-year-old Chris van Rossmann. This being America, he didn’t get off so easy.

The military thugs threatened him with a $10,000 fine should he use the defective TV again. Toshiba showed a bit more humanity and replaced his screwy set.