Captain Midnight (2)

Code name of mysterious citizen who took over an HBO cable broadcast for four minutes in the spring of 1986 to transmit a message protesting Cable TV signal scrambling. His first broadcast message on April 20, 1986 was a simple color bar pattern.


Seven days later at 12:32 a.m. EST, he again broke into the HBO transmissions during the showing of the movie The Falcon and the Snowman to reveal the written message “Good evening HBO/From Captain Midnight/$12.95 month/NOWAY!/Showtime Movie Channel Beware”

Upon investigation it was discovered that this maverick media maniac was 25-year-old John R. Mac Dougall, a seller of satellite dishes. He claimed that the scrambling of cable signals by HBO (Jan 15) Showtime and Movie Channel (May 27) was killing his 2 and 1/2 year old business.

He was arrested on July 25 and later was fined $5,000 and placed on one year’s probation by the federal magistrates court in Jacksonville, Florida. The “Captain Midnight” scenario was the first known instance of a private citizen illegally taking control of a commercial satellite.

Note: The Federal Communications Commission closed the first illegal television “station” on October, 19, 1950. The station operated by the Tube Division of Sylvania Electric Products of Emporium, Pennsylvania had televised illegal signals/programs from WJAC-TV in Johnstown, Pennsylvania from a tower atop Whitmore Mountain.


Born in Philadelphia, Jerome Alphonse Holst worked 30 years as a librarian. He has since retired and lives in Greensboro, North Carolina. Mr. Holst is also the author of the children’s books “Norman the Troll,” "Norman the Troll and the Haunted House," and "Gretchen and the Gremlins." In addition, he penned the fantasy novel “The Adventures of Glinda Gale,” a retelling of “The Wizard of Oz" and the reference text “The Encyclopedia of Movie and TV Insults.” .

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Posted in Code Name, TV & Movie Industry

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