The grainy black-and-white photo appeared on screen during the normal time slot for the station's Good Morning Washington news program. Shortly after 7 a.m.,Good Morning America's Digital TV network feed took over, removing the image. (The photo was not displayed on the station's analog feed.)
A screen shot of the WJLA mystery photo taken from Comcast Cable.
The photo showed a man wearing sunglasses and a woman with what appeared to be a string or possibly just a strand of hair coming from her mouth. The image did not display any nudity but its amateurish quality suggested sexual possibilities.
TVPredictions.com called WJLA-TV's news room this morning and talked to Aja Hubert, an assignment editor, who said "we are aware of the problem, but we don't know how it happened."
Hubert said the photo was on WJLA (channel 7 in DC) when she came to work at 5 a.m. "but I don't know how long it was there."
She said the station did not know the identities of the man and woman in the photo, the photo's origin or even what it was displaying. Asked if the photo appeared to be sexual in nature, or even a bondage photo, she said, "Oh, my God. I just know it's a man and woman."
However, after TVPredictions.com reported the appearance of the strange photo this morning, Hubert called back to say the photo was part of a promo for an upcoming Oprah show. She did not know the content of the show, but Oprah today features women who were married to child molesters. (Oprah airs on WJLA weekdays at 4 p.m.)
Hubert said she's still not sure why the photo appeared on screen for at least two hours.
"It was definitely weird," she said.
The photo could be seen by Comcast cable viewers on the cable operator's digital signal. DIRECTV this morning posted an on-screen message on its WJLA digital feed saying it was having technical difficulties with the signal.
Hubert said the photo was only shown on the WJLA digital signal.
Update: DCRTV, a web site that covers the Washington D.C. TV and radio industry, reported on Sunday that the problem occurred when an eight-year-old Harris Flexicoder, which encodes the digital signal, "locked up hard," causing the Oprah photo to freeze on screen.
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Phillip Swann is president and publisher of TVPredictions.com. He has been quoted in dozens of publications and broadcast outlets, including CNN, Fox News, Inside Edition, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, The Financial Times, The Associated Press and The Hollywood Reporter. He can be reached at email@example.com or at 703-505-3064.
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