TV hijacked!

My TV screen for channel MSNBC
My TV screen. Believe it or not, I was tuned to MSNBC

| On Wednesday, an utterly inexplicable thing happened. When I tuned in to MSNBC on my TV, the audio was fine, but the video was replaced by a browser search-results screen.

To be clear, in mid-afternoon I decided to catch a few minutes of my favorite lefty-propaganda station, MSNBC. When I switched to the channel, everything appeared normal: I could see what was obviously the broadcast video and could hear the broadcast audio. But... after a second or two, the video disappeared and was replaced by what you see above. This is clearly a customized browser (branded Frontier Communications), and it shows the results of a search for "TV." As a general practice, I keep subtitles on, and you can see that these were coming across just fine.

Somethings going on....!

All other channels (at least those of the 300 channels I get) were quite normal. It was only MSNBC that was affected.

I called DirecTV for assistance. It was a total waste of time. The person to whom I spoke was far more concerned with having me "verify" this, that, and the other thing than figuring out a possible explanation for this extraordinary behavior. You'd think this phenomenon would be of compelling interest to technical support, but alas that was not the case. I told the guy he was utterly useless and concluded my call (ie, Good bye!!!).

Some relevant facts:

After fussing and fuming for an appropriate period of time, I set about trying to figure this out.

I began by unplugging the DirecTV box, waiting the prescribed 30 seconds, then plugging it back in again. All this accomplished was that the thing went through its whole setup routine: Checking satellite settings (step 1 of 2); Won't be much longer now; Downloading stuff; and so on for some 15 minutes. No effect. MSNBC still showed the browser screen, and all the other channels were normal.

Now, the DirecTV setup is not exactly straightforward.

First, there is a wired internet connection to my BluRay player that in turn feeds the TV.

Unplugging that had absolutely no effect. 

Then there is a wi-fi receiver that feeds the TV somehow (I'm not really sure what it does, I think it has to do with the programming schedule and enabling features like on-demand viewing, restarting a program, etc.

For good measure, I shut off the powerline internet adapter (both wi-fi and wired) and unplugged the bad-boy DirecTV wi-fi receiver. That got rid of the browser screen on the TV. Yeah! But of course the TV then complained that it was "Not connected" to the internet.

wi-fi receiver
The DirecTV wi-fi receiver left and the DirecTV satellite receiver on the right.

I then re-established the wi-fi and wired internet connections through the powerline adapter and voilà! Everything was back to normal.

I have absolutely no explanation for this bizarre event. Obviously, the screen capture came in somehow through the DirecTV wi-fi adapter. Why would it attach itself only to channel MSNBC? Where did it come from? I sincerely doubt that any normal user uses a Frontier Communications branded browser.

However, I have learned that sometimes it is best to just marvel over the weird stuff that sometimes happens, have a stiff drink, and forget about it.

Who knows, maybe it was the Russians! or Trump!

Last updated on Apr 13, 2018

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