Imagine watching your daily news or a favorite show and the screen suddenly goes black and some eerie figure begins speaking or a weird video starts playing. That would probably creep you out, right? Television hijacking comes as a shock for both viewers and broadcasting networks. As technology is advancing, we are becoming more prone to these hijacks. Since the 20th century, there have been many radio broadcasting hijacks and now television hijacks. Some were funny while some were terrifying. The viewers have seen it all, from a fake Max Headroom performing eerie acts on our TV screens to someone warning people about the zombie apocalypse by interrupting a show. Here is the list of 10 oddest television broadcast hijackings of all time.
1. On November 22, 1987, an episode of Doctor Who on Chicago’s WTTW-TV was interrupted by a man wearing a “Max Headroom” mask, a British fictional character from the 80s. He was seen on TV doing unintelligible ranting and weird acts. The culprit behind this incident was never found.
On November 22, 1987, Doctor Who series fans in Chicago, Illinois were interrupted by the iconic Max Headroom. The first time it happened was during the 9 o’clock News on WGN when the viewers were watching sports news and the screen suddenly went black for 15 seconds.
Later, a man appeared wearing a Max Headroom mask. On the same day, when the show Doctor Who was broadcasting, it was interrupted by the same Max Headroom hacker.
For the next 88 seconds, viewers were shocked as they saw the fake Max Headroom performing weird acts like holding Coke and chanting its slogan.
He moaned and screamed while playing with gloves, and then getting spanked by a person wearing a French maid outfit holding a flyswatter. The scariest part is no one knows who hijacked the broadcasting and who this man wearing the Max Headroom mask was. (Source)
2. In 2013, during the Steve Wilkos Show broadcast in Montana, a typical alert started scrolling across the screens of the viewers. Suddenly a computerized voice started to speak about how they are at the beginning of the zombie apocalypse and the dead are rising and attacking the living.
In 2013, the residents of Montana were warned about zombies attacking the living. Fortunately, it was just a hoax. KRTV was hacked by a prankster who interrupted the broadcasting of the Steve Wilkos Show. An alert started scrolling on the screen and a computerized voice started warning about the dead rising from graves.
The voice said, “The civil authorities have been warned in your area that the dead bodies are rising from the graves and attacking the living. Do not attempt to approach these bodies as they are extremely dangerous.”
The viewers were scared after this interruption. Later, KRTV explained that their emergency alert system had been hacked and they are currently looking into it. Later, the hacker was tracked down and arrested. (Source)
3. In 1986, John MacDougall, an electric engineer, hacked HBO just because he was angry about the premium rates of HBO. He jammed their satellites and projected his messages. He called himself “Captain Midnight” and called out HBO for their prices. He was eventually caught and fined $5,000.
What would you do if you ever got fed up with the high prices of your cable subscription? Would you dare to hack the whole cable signal? On April 27, 1986, the largest cable service, HBO, was hacked by an angry customer over premium rates.
In the middle of a film, the satellite signals were jammed and a message started appearing over color bars. The person called himself “Captain Midnight” and warned HBO about its expensive rates. He also left an indication of his next two targets, Showtime and The Movie Channel.
The message was displayed on the screens for five long minutes of all HBO subscribers throughout the eastern half of the United States. The hacker was later caught. He was an electrical engineer named John MacDougall. He was fed up with the premium cable subscription and decided to do something about it. In the end, he was fined $5,000, which was quite ironic. (Source)
4. In 2006, during the Israel-Lebanon War, Israel hijacked the satellite transmission of Hezbollah. They interrupted the broadcast of Al Manar TV and showed anti-Hezbollah propaganda. They showed a humorous picture of Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah and fired three gunshots, then a voice said “Your day is coming.”
In 2006, Hezbollah’s TV station, Al-Manar TV, got caught up amid the Israel-Lebanon war. It all started with a group of Hezbollah fighters from Lebanon infiltrating Israel and abducting two Isreal soldiers.
The Hezbollah leader agreed to release the soldiers through indirect negotiations and trade promises, but Israelis rejected the idea of negotiating with terrorists. During this time of conflict, Israel hijacked Hezbollah’s TV station Al-Manar TV and started broadcasting their anti-Hezbollah propaganda.
The boldest thing they did was show a picture of Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah with a crosshair over his face. Then, three gunshots were heard and a voice was heard saying “Your day is coming.” (Source)
5. In 1997, during the broadcasting of the Art Bell radio show, the host of the show received a call from someone claiming to have worked for Area 51. He was paranoid and nervous and was also on the run from the government. Strangely, when he started to reveal some secret information, Art’s radio station was taken off the air.
In 1997, the popular talk show, Art Bell, was broadcasting its radio show. When the creator and the host of the show received a call from a man in distress claiming to have worked for Area 51.
The caller’s voice was seemingly paranoid or nervous, he claimed to be on the run and didn’t have much time before the government would track him down. He started speaking in his terrified voice and started talking about extra-dimensional beings and government plots that will have horrific effects on the world.
As the caller went on revealing some more secret information, Art’s radio station was taken off the air. Many thought that the government took over the broadcast to stop the man from revealing too much, but in reality, the show went off-air due to a mysterious satellite failure.
Next year, Art Bell received another call claiming to be the same man and asked him to disregard the previous call by saying it was a hoax. However, there is still debate that the second caller was not the same man or the first caller had been silenced. No one knows the truth. (Source)
Also read: 10 Fugitives From Justice Who Disappeared