AT&T Uverse Wants Us To Watch The Today Show

I’ve generally been happy with AT&T Uverse once our nightmarish installation experience was resolved but this morning every Uverse customer had their channels force-changed to The Today Show as an “emergency alert” blared but there is no emergency.

The angry Tweets from viewers are just hilarious.

UPDATE: confirmed that this affects Uverse customers nationwide, there is no emergency, and it’s AT&T’s fault.

UPDATE 2: The thing that’s pissing me off about this is that AT&T and even some news reporting are trying to make it sound like we merely had to put up with an emergency alert message. And yes, that’s bad: as freaked out as this nation is right now about ISIS and EBOLA and (fill in the blank)-ghazi, that’s not cool. But what no one is talking about is the fact that our televisions were hijacked! They literally took control of our TVs. They changed everybody’s channel to the local NBC affiliate and we were unable to control our televisions. I couldn’t even change the damn volume.

That is some messed up Big Brother shit right there, on a par with Apple forcing you to own a U2 album or Amazon entering your Kindle to take back a book you’d bought because of a copyright issue.

Corporate America is overstepping its bounds and infringing on the private lives of consumers. Again.

Update 3: FCC is investigating the hijacking of private televisions:

ATLANTA, Ga. — AT&T U-verse customers in several states woke up Friday morning to find a federal emergency alert on TV. The problem is, there was no emergency and the alert somehow hijacked their TV’s, refusing to allow them to change the channel.

Alan Sams, who has his phone and internet service bundled through AT&T says he couldn’t use the internet or his phone either.

“I’m more concerned that somebody on the inside of AT&T has the capacity to deal with shutting off my communications and controlling my communications, even if it was for a short period of time,” said Sams.

AT&T is still trying to figure out exactly what happened, but says the alert should not have impacted anything but television service.

In a statement released by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the agency said the problem started when an unidentified nationally syndicated radio show inappropriately broadcast the emergency signal. AT&T says it and a few other providers picked it up.

AT&T declined to answer questions about how decisions are made whether to air an emergency alert and why it took several hours to get it removed. The company also could not explain why customers were unable to change the channel.

FEMA has yet to say how many states were affected, but 11Alive saw complaints on social media from viewers in at least six states: Georgia, Tennessee, North Carolina, Michigan, Arkansas and Texas.

“Who’s controlling, who’s watching the traffic?” questioned security analyst Greg Evans, who is also a U-verse customer. As the morning rolled on, Evans began to question whether the system had been hacked.

“Anything electronic you can hack into it. If it has an internet IP address, you can hack into it,” said Evans.

AT&T insists its system was not hacked. Instead FEMA says several providers aired an emergency alert, inappropriately played by a nationally syndicated radio show. AT&T can’t say why the alert hijacked their customers TV’s, and insists the alert shouldn’t have affected phone service.

The FCC says it will also investigate the incident.

11 Comments

Filed under AT&T, corporate overlords, media

11 responses to “AT&T Uverse Wants Us To Watch The Today Show

  1. onyxpnina

    Somebody forgot to tell somebody that the test of the Emergency Broadcast Network was supposed to run at 3:00 am, not 7:00 am (or whenever the Today show airs).

    If this had been an actual emergency, they would have resurrected Hugh Downs.

  2. themadkansan

    butbutbutbutbut EBOLA! NEWYORKEBOLA!!!! BOOGABOOGABOOGABOOGAEBOLOBAMAGONAGITCHA!!!!!!!!11oNe!.

  3. Jim in Memphis

    http://www.statesman.com/news/business/u-verse-glitch-freezing-channels-with-nonexistent-/nhrBh/

    Well it seems like this was a result of someone triggering the Emergency Alert System which is a government program that requires broadcasters to send out the signal. – http://www.ready.gov/alerts

    So ATT really does not have control of your TV per se, but the government does.

    • Yes, AT&T is claiming it was a natonally syndicated radio show that accidentally sent a message to the system. So no, it was not the government.

      Specifically, AT&T told me:

      “This incident occurred when a nationally syndicated radio show accidentally sent a message through the system. As a part of the National Emergency Alert system, nat’l government emergency orgs & authorized TV/radio stations can distribute alert signals over the network and direct users to a station for more info.”

      Sorry, but “distributing an alert signal over the network” and “directing users to a station for more info” is NOT what happened. What happened was our channels were changed — literally changed. We could not control our TVs. I could not even lower the fucking volume. I had no control over my TV. So yes, AT&T did have control of my television, in every way possible except in my ability to turn it off.

      • Jim in Memphis

        SB – the government has set up the alert system and broadcasters are required to participate. The signal was originated from a syndicated radio, but it sounds like the ATT system is set to automatically rebroadcast it as a requirement of the alert system. So again, I don’t think ATT has any intention of forcing you to watch a certain station as part of a corporate plot to rule the world. I think they are complying with government regulations as best they can.

      • Well SOMEONE forced me to watch fucking Al Roker this morning and I’m pretty sure it wasn’t Obama.

        Don’t think the Emergency Alert System hijacks your TV. It posts a message and tells you where to get info. It doesn’t take control of your TV.

        Now I’m seeing reports that some AT&T Uverse customers weren’t able to use their internet or landlines, either. Fortunately that didn’t happen to us.

        This was an AT&T fuckup, big time.

    • CB

      If this were actually the government’s fault, wouldn’t more stations have been broadcasting the signal, and not just one “nationally syndicated radio show”? It seems logical to me that this would be the case. Also, how in Heaven does U-verse hijack cable, internet and phone service in SIX STATES, based on an alert sent out on ONE radio show? Legitimate emergency alerts are on all stations, but the customers affected couldn’t know that, because their signals were frozen on NBC. That right there is FUBAR. Almost makes me glad I’m a customer of the evil Comcast.

      • It’s also weird that we ALL were directed to NBC. I suspect the “nationally syndicated radio show” whom AT&T is protecting was probably NBC/Universal owned. Maybe even the Today Show itself? I know The Today Show recently started broadcasting on satellite — XM/Sirius. Maybe it’s somehow related to that, I don’t know.

        I am not an expert on how the emergency broadcast system works in this brave new world of cable and satellite but I find it very bizarre that Uverse makes it work by actually taking control of your TV.

  4. democommie

    Southern Beale:

    Look, you and I both know that given a choice between believing some private, for-profit business or a GODLESS comnist gummint official being the responsible party when some fuck-up like this occurs that Jimbo(b) is gonna have to go with the latter.