Captain Midnight hijacked HBO 32 years ago today!

It was on this day, April 27th, 1986, HBO became the first cable broadcaster to have its signal interrupted by a video pirate. A man named "Captain Pirate" intercepted HBO’s satellite transmission during a movie, and inserted a message condemning the practice of scrambling Pay-TV signals. John MacDougal of Florida was later convicted of the crime.


This happened shortly after midnight during a showing of the movie "The Falcon and the Snowman." According to the ABC News report below, MacDougal used a large satellite transmission dish simply aimed at the appropriate HBO satellite in the sky, and using HBO's published frequency, transmitted with more power than HBO which overrode the original signal.


MacDougal did all of this from Ocala, and was later arrested when a tourist overheard him talking about it on a payphone near I-75! He plea bargained and received a $5,000 fine, one year unsupervised probation, and his amateur radio license was suspended for a year.

Heath West

Heath West

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