NewsChannel 7 vandalized, on-air signal impacted

Published: Nov. 1, 2021 at 1:02 PM CDT
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PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - The Bay County Sheriff’s Office is investigating after WJHG’s broadcast equipment was vandalized Sunday night. Now, all eight of the networks at WJHG are off the air because of the incident.

“We are conducting a full criminal investigation,” said Sheriff Tommy Ford, Bay County.

At around 9:30 p.m. Sunday night, WJHG’s signal abruptly went off the air. A WJHG employee noticed what happened and looked outside to check. That’s where he found a man he didn’t recognize near one of WJHG’s satellite dishes.

“They encountered a male cutting satellite communication equipment.

In all, cables on nine satellites were severed. The WJHG employee told deputies the suspect was a white male, dressed in a dark jacket and camouflage. He was last seen walking off Front Beach Rd. When deputies arrived, they were unable to find anyone matching the suspect’s description.

“Processing the area as a crime scene,” said Sheriff Ford. “Fingerprints and DNA, things of that nature in an attempt to once we locate a possible suspect, to tie them back to that area.”

The damage is significant. WJHG General Manager Ulysses Carlini said crews have been working non-stop making repairs.

“I think as we progress. we are evaluating all of the connections that were cut which were extensive,” said Carlini.

But for WJHG, a station used to covering crimes, it’s different when the crime hits so close to home.

“It is very unusual for us to be the story,” said Carlini. “Usually we are out covering the story with things in the community. the shoe is on the other foot here, the vandalism is in our back yard. literally in our back yard.”

While systems are getting fixed as quickly as possible, the sheriff is vowing to find whoever is responsible for taking the station off the air.

“It could be a very serious charge once we located an individual,” said Sheriff Ford.

The sheriff said the suspect could be facing federal charges for distributing broadcast communication involving the FCC.

The incident affected the distribution of WJHG-NBC, WECP-CBS, EJHG-CW, EECP-My Network, The Circle Network, ION Network, Dabl Network, and Heroes & Icons Network.

We are currently working to resolve the issues caused by this vandalism and to restore our broadcast signals as soon as possible. We appreciate your patience and understanding.

To watch our newscasts, you can watch our livestream here on our website, on our WJHG news app, or on VUit.com

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