Swedish news viewers watch empty studio

The camera was rolling, the signature tune was blasting out, all that was missing for viewers of Swedish Television's regional news programmes on Thursday night were the presenters.

News programmes across the country were affected after a mix-up at network operator Teracom.

In northern Sweden, instead of seeing local news programme Nordnytt, viewers saw an empty studio. After a few minutes, a so-far unidentified member of SVT’s staff entered the studio. He whistled, cleared his throat, grimaced and talked to a colleague in the control room from the presenter’s chair, Svenska Dagbladet reported.

Jan Sundén, editor and one of the presenters of the programme, said he was annoyed that viewers had been able to see staff while they were preparing to go on air.

“A studio is a workplace – people shouldn’t just be able to look in. People could be sitting there in the studio doing just about anything. I was up in the gallery fixing my tie when it started broadcasting,” he told The Local.

According to Sundén, Teracom has made the mistake twice this week.

“Teracom doesn’t seem to be capable of keeping broadcast times,” he said.

The error was due to holiday scheduling, which has led to regional news programmes being broadcast ten minutes later, at 7:20pm instead of 7:10pm.

An operator at Teracom was charged with flicking the switch to ensure that satellite viewers on the Viasat network got to see the right programme. But he forgot about the seasonal time change, so the switch flicked automatically at the normal time.

“Human error was to blame,” confirmed Lennart Ivarsson at Teracom.

“The guy whose job it was to flick the switch missed it.”

While SVT has only received reports from Nordnytt, Ivarsson says the error would have affected regional TV programmes across the country, where either black screens or empty studios would have been shown. SVT’s press office told The Local that it has not received complaints of missing TV presenters from other regions.

Ivarsson assured The Local that Teracom’s technician would get it right on Friday.

“He certainly won’t miss it tonight,” he said.