Missed Switch Leaves Local Viewers in Dark

TIMES STAFF WRITER

It doesn't quite rank with the Heidi Game of 1968, but a switching error at CBS in New York caused local fans some frustration Saturday.

A network spokesman at South Bend, Ind., said CBS planned for seven markets to miss the end of the Alabama-Tennessee game, which ran long, and get the start of USC-Notre Dame.

But the switch took place in only three of those markets--Chicago, South Bend and Bakersfield.

Four other markets in California--Los Angeles, San Diego, Santa Maria and El Centro--were supposed to also get the start of the USC-Notre Dame but didn't.

The game in South Bend was held up at least 20 to 25 minutes for CBS, but eventually started before Alabama-Tennesse was over.

Making matters worse for Southern California viewers was that they had to endure four or five commercials and a Channel 2 promo for the "John Robinson Show" before the game in South Bend got on the screen.

By the time the game was televised, nearly 2 1/2 minutes of the game had elapsed, and the Trojans had scored a touchdown after a fumble by Notre Dame's Raghib Ismail on the opening kickoff.

Mark Hofman, a producer for KCBS, said his station was informed at 12:35 p.m. that it would soon be getting the telecast from South Bend.

"We were told an announcement had already been made, but the switch never came," Hoffman said.

The most infamous switch in sports television was in 1968 during an Oakland Raiders-New York Jets game. NBC, the network televising the game, switched to the movie "Heidi," and most of the nation's viewers missed seeing the Raiders score twice in the final minutes to win.

Another snafu took place during the USC-Notre Dame game at the Coliseum in 1986. CBS was away at a commercial when the Irish kicked the game-winning field goal in a 38-36 victory.

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