CBS Mistakenly Sends Bombing Report
By David Bauder
AP Television Writer
The Associated Press
Saturday, February 21, 1998; 3:48 a.m. EST
NEW YORK (AP) -- A CBS practice news report about a U.S. bombing of Iraq was inadvertently transmitted to television stations by satellite. To the best of the network's knowledge -- and to its relief -- the rehearsal did not air on any stations.
A technician at a West Virginia station was stunned Friday afternoon when he was checking satellite transmissions and found CBS anchor Dan Rather describing the aircraft used in a bombing run on Baghdad.
``It looked like a real broadcast of what was going on,'' said Bill McClure, master control operator at WTAP-TV in Parkersburg, W.Va., an NBC affiliate.
``What is usually a quiet room in the back of our department became very packed,'' he said. WTAP officials hurriedly called The Associated Press to check if Iraq had been attacked. It hadn't.
Rather and CBS News correspondent David Martin in Washington were practicing in case U.S.-led forces bomb Iraq and the network is called upon to deliver a special report, spokeswoman Kerri Weitzberg said.
The network, which also wanted to test new graphics that would be used to cover the story, planned to use a fiber optic link that would ensure the test report would only be seen in New York and Washington newsrooms, she said.
But for 20 minutes, it was mistakenly sent to a satellite where it could be picked up by anybody with special receiving equipment -- usually only at television stations.
CBS received ``a handful'' of phone calls from people confused by the transmission, she said.
� Copyright 1998 The Associated Press