Channel 5’s Lost Mystery

UPDATE 7:37 PM 5/25/10: WEWS will air “Lost” at 1:06 AM early Thursday morning, in addition to the previously scheduled ABC network repeat of the show’s finale at 8 PM on Saturday…

And yes, our apologies for inadvertently mixing up the Beacon Journal’s Rich Heldenfels with the Plain Dealer’s Mark Dawidziak. That part of the item has been corrected…


UPDATE 9:20 PM 5/24/10: The WEWS item linked below has been updated with a new message from newly minted VP/GM Sam Rosenwasser:

The equipment involved in last night’s problem was important hardware – it takes the ABC signal and makes it possible for our viewers to receive it in high-definition on their digital cable tiers. We believed that we had equipment and back-up systems in place to ensure an uninterrupted signal, but we learned the hard way that we were wrong.

I know you are uninterested in technical explanations; all you really care about is that you weren’t able to watch much-anticipated programming.

To those asking why their non-HD signal was affected, some systems (including DirecTV) “center cut” the HD signal for SD/analog subscribers.

Rosenwasser says “as a fan of the show and the guy who runs the station”, he’s “even angrier” about the problems than viewers who have been complaining, and notes:

* Engineers worked around the clock to diagnose the problem. We identified the source of the interference early this morning and we’re correcting it with new equipment.
* Channel 5 will re-broadcast the “Lost” finale this Saturday (May 29th).
* I am working with ABC to try to re-air the episode even before this coming weekend.

The natives are still restless, though, as we noted earlier.

Our original item is below…


We think we’ve solved the mystery of the hit ABC show “Lost” on Sunday night.

No, we don’t mean the fate of the survivors of Oceanic 815, the “Smoke Monster” or any mystery about the series itself.

The mystery for many Northeast Ohio viewers: What was disrupting the broadcast of the highly-anticipated series finale on Scripps ABC affiliate WEWS/5 in Cleveland?

An ongoing series of picture and sound dropouts and glitches made the show not at all enjoyable for a large number of Northeast Ohio viewers.

The station itself notes on

Equipment problems at WEWS-TV caused the signal to break up during the finale of Lost Sunday night.

Station engineers worked through the night to isolate the transmission issue. The problem continued into the 11:30 news and into early Monday morning, but crews were able to fix the faulty equipment.

The natives, if you will, are restless.

The linked item above now has dozens of comments, calling for anything from the station’s license revocation to removal of its status as the market’s ABC affiliate, and that’s not even counting calls for the execution of station staffers. (Really, folks…it’s just a TV show.)

The station notes that the “Lost” finale will be re-aired Saturday night at 8 PM, which is a previously scheduled network encore.

The above linked item also links to video on, where properly equipped Internet users can watch the finale online.

So, what about the mystery?

The Plain Dealer’s Mark Dawidziak notes:

Disruptions were reported by viewers watching Channel 5 on Cox Cable, DirecTV and Dish Network, although Time Warner cable subscribers in Akron said the signal remained clear throughout Sunday night’s 21/2-hour final episode of “Lost.”

Long-time readers know that the OMW World Headquarters(tm) is served by Time Warner Cable’s Cleveland-based system, the former Adelphia.

And we were on the case ourselves last night on our Twitter account, noting that the breakups were NOT occurring on analog cable channel 5, but were happening on the HD side of things (cable channel 1005, or the clear QAM version on 5.1).

Our educated guess is that WEWS uses a legacy fiber feed to deliver the old “analog” (now SD) version to Time Warner, and that last night’s problems involved the over-air signal – which Time Warner (we guess) uses to deliver the HD version of WEWS to its viewers.

Thus, with the over-air signal not involved at all on the SD/analog cable version on cable channel 5, those viewers were not seeing any problems.

We’ll try to confirm our educated guess, and will update this item as needed…


9 Responses to Channel 5’s Lost Mystery

  1. Rob says:

    WEWS posts a little more information on what happened. I think this was a needed step. Hopefully ABC will let them re-air sooner.

  2. john barkan says:

    DirecTV’s HD & SD broadcasts were both affective and WEWS twittered me that problem was fixed by morning! Gee Thanks TV5! Glad I tried to watch a television event on your station, but not again w/internet now available at my convenience not the station’s.

  3. YEKIMI says:

    Last time I picked up a paper I think Rich Heldenfels was still working for the Akron Beacon Journal.

  4. Chris says:

    Doesn’t DirecTV/Dish Network use a fiber feed for their uplink? Wouldn’t that negate any problems they may have had with the microwave link?
    I know for other markets, such as Rochester, New York, Time Warner solely uses a fiber line for their network feeds. It’s surprising that they don’t do so here.

  5. Mike D says:

    Rich is with the Beacon Journal. Mark Dawidziak is with the Plain Dealer

  6. Ed Esposito says:

    There were occasional breakups/interruptions on TWC/Adelphia Western Reserve during the program, momentary full-screen (various colors) lasting about two seconds or so…irritating but not totally disruptive.

  7. mike kuntz says:

    I was watching LOST on my HDTV using an outside antenna. I just want to let you know that my the digital, over the air, signal was messed up too. Pixelation and signal loss were present during the broadcast of LOST and the local news following. I get channel 5 with a signal strength of 80 out of 100 (what ever that means).

  8. Mike D says:

    And that is why I would much rather read your blog than the print media.
    Well except for the SI swimsuit issue.

  9. Ed K. says:

    I have AT&T U-verse and watched the series finale of Lost in HD without much trouble, There was only a couple times that I noticed minor glitches, but nothing compared to what others experienced. I love AT&T U-verse and will never go back to Time Warner or Dish Network.

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