Amber Alert glitch leaves N.J. cable viewers seeing red

New Jersey cable viewers were torn between their moral responsibilities and their guilty TV viewing pleasures when an Amber Alert warning went horribly awry. The alert was supposed to flash up on viewers' screens to tell them an 18-month-old child had inadvertently been part of an Elizabeth, N.J. carjacking. Instead programs were switched off across all channels--including DVRs--while set-top box functions were locked and an inaudible message about the incident flashed intermittently on the screen. The real emergency message left the impression that it was just a test because the information was so garbled.

Since the N.J. State Police issued the alert, they took the heat for the glitch that happened across multiple cable systems throughout the Garden State. "I've heard reports that different outlets broadcast different messages based on the one that we put out," State Police Sgt. Stephen Jones told The Trentonian. "We have a number of people working on those things to make sure the problems are not on our end."

Apparently a big part of the problem is the complexity of the viewing options available to subscribers. "There's high def and there's regular TV. And then there's the broadcasters themselves that send out the signal," Jones said. "We'll be working with them to try to iron out those differences."

The car was found and the child was safe, in case you were wondering about the non-cable aspect of the story.

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