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Sun causes brief television programming outages

February 29, 2012


The sun may cause some television outages soon. (Photo: MGNOnline)

The sun may cause local residents to experience television programming outages in the next couple of weeks, EPB and Comcast officials said.

“Twice a year, sun alignment causes brief programming outages to all cable and satellite providers,” Jim Weigert, vice president and general manager for Comcast Chattanooga, said.  “This phenomenon is called a ‘sun outage,’ and it happens every early spring and again in fall. Unfortunately, this is an unavoidable occurrence that happens to all providers. The disturbance should be minimal, and it does not affect local broadcast stations.”

AT&T leaders couldn’t be reached Monday for comment.

EBP leaders notified customers through a crawling screen message on the Weather Channel and other messages on channels 4 and 200, spokeswoman Deborah Dwyer said.

Leaders also used social media to update customers.

But EPB customer Jimmy Tucker was initially concerned after seeing the social media message.

“I was upset because the way it was presented was, ‘We’re having issues, and expect bad quality service,’” he said. “I felt like this was an unacceptable announcement because I am paying for a service and should never have to settle for poor service just because.”

But once he learned that it is an issue caused by the sun, he understood the issue.

“I do feel better about the situation,” he said. “Acts of nature cannot be prevented, and I’m pretty sure they’re covered in the terms of service.”

Dwyer said that the interferences could range from mild—which could cause pausing or freezing— to severe with loss of the entire picture.

The problems generally last between 10 and 20 minutes, she said.

Comcast leaders said that solar flares are different from sun outages. A solar flare is a sudden brightening observed over our sun’s surface or the solar limb, which is interpreted as a large energy release.

A solar flare event happened on Feb. 24, Comcast leaders said.

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