Colbert Report censored?
July 6, 2006 11:30 AM   Subscribe

Conspiracy filter: Has anyone ever experienced this strange, suspicious phenomenon on TV before?

The Colbert Report was seemingly censored right off the air last night here in my town. I live in ULTRA-conservative NW Florida, right next to Eglin Air Force Base, the largest in the world.

Last night, just as The Colbert Report was starting, the TV started making a siren-like squeal and that I've never heard from a TV before in my life. As the siren started the picture faded to snow and then the signal was lost completely. No other channel was affected and both adjacent channels were crystal clear. In a half hour, after the Colbert Report had ended, the channel was back to normal. Doesn't this seem odd? Am I being paranoid? I looked for a synapsis of last night's show, but couldn't find one.
posted by wsg to Media & Arts (19 answers total)
Who is your cable/satellite provider?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:34 AM on July 6, 2006

Am I being paranoid?

Insofar as you suspect that the military is censoring a comedy show by somehow scrambling the signal, yes.
posted by Espy Gillespie at 11:34 AM on July 6, 2006

Seems to me, if they were censoring, they would've hit the daily Show first.
posted by Thorzdad at 11:36 AM on July 6, 2006

the first thing I'd do is take the tinfoil hat off and download the show via bittorrent. Go to someplace like Torrentspy and search for "Colbert Report 2006.06.06". Watch the show and see if there was anything in it that looks like it would have particularly offended the psychos in your neighborhood. If there is (and there will be), you have my permission to put the tinfoil hat right back on.

FWIW, I don't think you're being paranoid. Stuff like this probably happens intentionally as often as unintentionally.
posted by mcstayinskool at 11:39 AM on July 6, 2006

I think it was a rerun.
posted by smackfu at 11:51 AM on July 6, 2006

It sounds more like they lost the feed or some sort of technical mishap with that paticular episode. When shows are pulled they do so in advance and replace them with other shows, at least in my experience. I do have this comical image in my head of some Air Force guy seeing the beginning of The Colbert Report and hitting a big red button to take it off the air. The Report was a repeat last night anyway, or at least my TiVo didn't record it as new.
posted by geoff. at 11:52 AM on July 6, 2006

Although there is precedent for local broadcasters self-censoring material they receive from major broadcast networks (e.g. Sinclair), it's extraordinarily unlikely that this would happen to a cable provider serving up Comedy Central. Your TV had a glitch. Whoo-hoo, time for that hot new flat-panel you've been looking at!
posted by frogan at 11:54 AM on July 6, 2006

Response by poster: I don't think it was the Air Force doing the censoring, but they are a big part of why this area is so conservative. Cox Cable is the provider.
posted by wsg at 11:55 AM on July 6, 2006

Cox Communications?

Cox Communications temporarily pulls [MoveOn] ad that attacks Drake

So who knows? Are there any other Cox subscribers who couldn't watch this show last night?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:08 PM on July 6, 2006

Seems to me, if they were censoring, they would've hit the daily Show first.

this is an aside, but I assume you're saying this because you consider the Daily Show to be more brazenly liberal -- I've had friends who've brought this up as well. Is satirizing Fox News and their ilk somehow *less* liberal? I mean, obviously *someone* didn't get it, otherwise Colbert would've never been asked to speak at the White House press dinner, but it seems very clearly critical to me ... maybe we're reaching a point where it's damn hard for people to tell the diffference.

posted by fishfucker at 12:19 PM on July 6, 2006

of course, I just realized you could have meant that if they were going to remove colbert, they'd probably pull stewart as well. which i guess i'd agree with -- except that probably it was something on that show specifically that someone disagreed with.
posted by fishfucker at 12:21 PM on July 6, 2006

It's probably just a coincidence. But you knew that, right?

Why not just call you cable provider and ask if there was a service interruption last night, and report the trouble you had viewing that channel?

We were having various channels becoming unwatchable at random times - rarely, but often enough that we noticed. Finally we got annoyed enough with it that we called our cable provider to complain about the service and they sent out a technician. The tech discovered that our original installation had been botched and a splitter had been installed backwards. This had led to a noisy and unreliable line. Once they installed it all correctly, the picture on every channel became waaayyyyy clearer, and we don't seem to have the random "this channel is temporarily unavailable" messages anymore.

My point? It could be a very simple technical problem that your provider is best equipped to answer.
posted by raedyn at 12:41 PM on July 6, 2006

As far as censoring ... only if it was a re-run, I think. Networks don't run episodes by affiliates / cable cos before broadcast. So unless Colbert said "FUCK ELGIN AF BASE" and then the signal went off the air...
posted by lbergstr at 1:23 PM on July 6, 2006

Also, Comedy Central re-runs the Daily Show and the Colbert Report several times a day (even when it's a rerun to begin with). Each episode runs first at 11:30PM and then again the next day at 1:30AM, 8:30AM, 2:30PM, and 8:30PM. Try tuning in again tonight -- if you get the same results, then worry. Otherwise, enjoy the show.
posted by Acetylene at 1:26 PM on July 6, 2006

(By "try tuning in again tonight," I of course mean tune in at 8:30 to see last night's episode.)
posted by Acetylene at 1:27 PM on July 6, 2006

A "technical glitch" involving a "siren-like squeal" and fading to "snow" and which precisely(?) matched the time-slot of a particular show is extremely improbable, actually; but you knew that, right?

I'm sure the Air Force has the right and even the statutory responsibility, to monitor any cable signal that comes on to the base itself and censor anything it considers detrimental to morale, or safety, or the war effort in general. The siren-like squeal makes me wonder if some sort of alert system was being used for this purpose; it would make sense to put a capability like that onto a cable system serving a military base. But you say you are right next to the base, not on it. Could it be that the cable company just took the signal from some 'substation' on the base in order to wire up your house, or that your house was at one time official military housing?
posted by jamjam at 3:01 PM on July 6, 2006

This seems like a pretty obvious technical foulup either at Comedy Central or your local cable outlet. Sounds like the show's tape was messed up for whatever reason and the show didn't get broadcast.

The fact that other channels were fine just means the problem was further upstream than the line from the cable company to your home.

See Hanlon's razor: Never attribute to malice what can be adequately explained by stupidity.
posted by Khalad at 4:37 PM on July 6, 2006

Also on cox and I used to have this happen to me a lot with just the SPEED channel (only during NASCAR qualifying and other live events) and FX during live races. The regular programming on those channels never had an issue. After a while I started getting a little creeped out by it.

I finally called the cable company when it started happening on other channels. They gave me a new converter box and, noting that I split my internet connection off the same line, boosted the signal down at the junction box. Haven't had anything out of the ordinary since (and my cable internet speed went from 3mbps to 12!)

It's always good to tip your cable guy.

Thanks, Khalad, I had no idea that saying had a name. I have it taped to my monitor at work. Keeps me sane.
posted by sciatica at 7:01 PM on July 6, 2006

I have lived on many Air Force bases in my life -- and worked on many with TV sets in the lobbies -- and have never experienced anything like that. Sure, there are cable outages periodically, and sometimes certain channels get farked up, but no deliberate censoring of anything by the military.
posted by davidmsc at 8:37 PM on July 6, 2006

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