We now join our regularly scheduled program in progress…

Squeezed November 17, 2009

“We now join our regularly scheduled program in progress…”

This phrase is a familiar sound on American TV, especially after a sports event that has run overtime. But have you ever asked yourself why that phrase has become so well-known?

Because of a famous football game forty-one years ago today – on November 17, 1968. It was the New York Jets at the Oakland Raiders, with two high-scoring offenses, both at the top of their respective divisions. By the time 7 p.m. rolled around on the East Coast, the game was still close, and with 1:05 left in the fourth quarter, the Jets scored a field goal to make the game 32-29 Jets. When NBC cut to a commercial break, it was Raider ball on their 23 yard line.

So, put yourself in the NBC control room for a minute. With monitors all around you, you’ve seen how close the game is. But now it’s 6:58, and you have to put a made-for-TV children’s movie on at 7:00 p.m., but you don’t want to miss the end of the game and, probably, neither do your viewers. What do you do?

Answer back in 1968: You put the movie on, never mind the score. If you valued your job, of course. And if no one told you otherwise.

Ironically, that’s what the executives at NBC were trying to do at that very minute, but the NBC switchboard was overloaded with both sports fans and concerned parents. The executives couldn’t get through, and the NBC control room cut to the movie as scheduled.

Cut back to Oakland. One minute can make all the difference in a football game, and that’s exactly what happened. In two plays, the Raiders scored one touchdown. Then on the following kickoff, the Jets’ kick returner fumbled the ball, and the Raiders recovered and ran it in for another TD. Final score: Raiders 43, Jets 32.

NBC announced the score via a final crawl during the movie, and that’s when all hell broke loose in New York with irate football fans nearly bringing down telephone service in all of the New York City area.

Ultimately, the NFL (and other major league sports) amended their TV contracts to require games to be broadcast in their entirety, at least in the markets of the teams involved.

Oh, and the movie? Heidi. And the game became known as the Heidi Game.



Posted via web from Freshly Squeezed Express

Leave a Reply

Note: Comments from first time commenters are moderated and will be posted at my first opportunity, usually within 48 hours.