Riveting television

Neilsen’s fourth rating sweeps month of the year, when the service determines the ratings that decide ad rates, began on Oct. 30, and KREN, Reno’s Channel 27, got off to a bad start. For more than half a day, from at least Friday night to Saturday afternoon, all the programming on the station had normal video, but the audio was a couple of bars of the Sex and the City theme music, which kept playing over and over.

Hour after hour went by with the incessant music starting, running for a couple of bars, then starting over at the beginning. It played over commercials, programs and station identifications.

Finally, shortly after 2:30 Saturday afternoon the music, which was then playing over the top of a movie, stopped, and the station’s picture went black. At about 2:50 it began broadcasting the movie again—silently. A few minutes later, the sound came on, and then the visual signal started breaking up. Finally, both parts came together.

An attempt to get information from the station about the problem during business hours on Monday got a recording saying it was after business hours. Pappas Telecasting of Visalia, the station’s owner, is in bankruptcy proceedings and may be operating its stations with skeleton crews. KREN and its companion Spanish language station KAZR cancelled all its short-lived newscasts in March and laid off the entire workforce. Much of the workforce then sued the station, a lawsuit that is still pending.