Wireless carrier AT&T on Saturday apologized before its U-verse customers for accidentally issuing an emergency alert message through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
“A FEMA probe indicates that a nationally syndicated radio show not affiliated with AT&T accidentally sent a message over the National Emergency Alert System. This false message was carried on our network, as well as some other providers. We apologize to our customers,” said an AT&T spokesperson.
AT&T U-verse customers in several states including Georgia, Michigan, Mississippi, Tennessee and Texas woke up on Friday morning with a federal emergency alert on their television sets, stopping them to switch to other channels.
The cautionary warning, which began popping up on TV screens at around 10 am EDT on October 24, asked the viewers to keep their phone lines free in order to receive an important message from the White House.
Fortunately, the FEMA alert message didn’t trigger any form of panic as caused by the prominent 1938 reading of “War of the Worlds” by HG Wells for the first time on the radio.
The alert message reads: “We interrupt our programming at the request of the White House. This is the Emergency Alert System. All normal programming has been discontinued during this emergency.”
Briefing about the technical glitch, FEMA spokesperson Rafael Lemaitre had said, “On Friday morning, there was an inappropriate playing of the national emergency alert notification tones on a syndicated radio broadcast. There is not a national emergency. Today’s broadcast triggered alert notification in states where the alert has been played.”
According to Lemaitre, FEMA is working with the Federal Communications Commission to investigate the incident.
“Certain alerts, like the one broadcast today, are designed to be automatically picked up and rebroadcast by other radio and TV stations. FEMA and the FCC are currently working with broadcasters to determine the full scope of the situation,” the FEMA spokesperson said.
AT&T also said that it is also trying to figure out what exactly happened, saying the warning should not have influenced anything other than television service.