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What's with the blank screens during football games on WUTV?

Alan Pergament

Like many Western New Yorkers on a day without a Buffalo Bills game, I settled in front of my TV at 1 p.m. Sunday to watch the big NFL game between Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens and the once-beaten San Francisco 49ers on WUTV, the local Fox affiliate.

I was immediately startled to see a blank screen rather than any game action on WUTV, which I was watching via Spectrum cable.

I waited and waited and waited and still no Lamar.

So I asked my Twitter followers if they were experiencing the same problem.

People who subscribed to DirecTV and Fios tweeted they had no problem, as did some Spectrum customers who live in areas different than where I live.

A neighbor who lives about 500 yards from me said he wasn’t experiencing a problem, which made me a little paranoid. Was I being singled out for a bad review of a Fox telecast?


Some other Spectrum customers said they were experiencing the same problem and have had sporadic problems receiving WUTV for the last few weeks. It's one thing to have the Fox affiliate freeze the picture on an episode of "The Resident," quite another to have it freeze or go blank during a live NFL game.

One follower in Grand Island noted that he switched to watching the game on the Spectrum app, which carries the game on delay by 20 seconds or so.

The delay is unacceptable.

So I texted Nick Magnini, the general manager of WUTV, who was understanding and vowed to get to the bottom of the issue. He said he didn’t believe it was a systemwide issue and a little later added that Spectrum reported “all is good.”

I told him that Spectrum was wrong, as my blank picture could attest.

I called Spectrum, which advised me to reboot all the TVs in my house. I didn’t want to do that because my girlfriend was watching a Lifetime Christmas movie in another room. I didn’t want to ruin Christmas for her.

I rebooted the TV I was watching and got the game again. (In hindsight, maybe I should have rebooted all the TVs.)

At least, I got it for a while. The screen went blank again as Baltimore was driving in the final six minutes for the winning field goal in a 20-17 victory.

So, I decided to reboot again while thinking “this is ridiculous.” (Magnini was nice enough to agree with me.)

One of my followers suggested that I give Spectrum the boot but I am not there yet.

Of course, it takes several minutes to reboot so I missed almost the entire winning drive. I got the picture back just as the Ravens’ Justin Tucker was lining up for the winning kick in a 20-17 victory.

To say, I was aggravated was about as big an understatement as saying the stores were crowded on Black Friday and Jackson is must-see TV this season.

Jackson will be showcasing his skills this Sunday against the Buffalo Bills. Fortunately, the 1 p.m. game is on WIVB-TV, the local CBS affiliate, which avoids any problems with WUTV.

Magnini assured me Sunday and Monday that the station is working with Spectrum to discover the problem so it can be fixed.

He better hurry. The worst-case scenario is if WUTV had similar problems during the NFC playoffs. Fox has the Super Bowl this year.

If WUTV and Spectrum don’t figure out the problem by Feb. 2, I’ll be shouting a lot of (you fill in in the blank) words at my blank screen and demanding a rebate from Spectrum.


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