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  #1  
Old 20 January 2010, 08:10 PM
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Default Christine Chubbuck on-air suicide

Apparently on July 15, 1974 Christine Chubbuck committed suicide on Live TV during the evening news (she was an anchor.) It seems to be widely believed as true (according to many forums/websites.)

If you google her name there are 186,000 results however not one video of the occurrence. Is that even possible I mean wouldn't someone, somewhere have a copy of this? FCC should have copy stored away in their archives, and I would imagine her family would have a copy of the event as well and I find it hard to believe that after all these years it has not been leaked.
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  #2  
Old 24 January 2010, 05:44 AM
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Christine Chubbuck wasn't an "anchor," nor did her suicide occur during the evening news -- she was a morning interview/talk show host who killed herself just after (uncharacteristically) presenting a newscast in the opening minutes of her program.

There are plenty of contemporaneous news accounts like the following that document her on-air suicide:

http://news.google.com/newspapers?id...&pg=3508,10156

In those pre-VCR days, it wouldn't be at all surprising that the broadcast of a live local daytime talk show was not taped by anyone. It's not like the FCC monitors and records everything ever aired by every single television station in the U.S.
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Old 24 January 2010, 11:12 AM
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Indeed - the BBC have been known to lose quite a lot of stuff even pre-recorded stuff. The first season of Red Dwarf springs to mind (though they found that eventually), and IIRC they put out an appeal for some missing episodes of Dr. Who from shortly after the same era recorded by people with the primitive vcr's of the time.

It could also be a taste and decency issue - the death of Steve Irwin was on film/video, but after the inquest all known copies were destroyed. It's possible someone has a copy, but AFAIK anyone that has one isn't sharing (not a bad thing).
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  #4  
Old 24 January 2010, 11:38 AM
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Wikipedia says the family took out an injunction against the station to prevent their tape copy from being released, although it's labelled "citation needed", and it says that the Sherrif's department released their evidence copy to the family after the inquest.
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  #5  
Old 24 January 2010, 03:35 PM
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Why would the station make a (at that time expensive) tape copy of a live news broadcast? Also, from the eyewitnes report, it doesn't sound like there was any kind of recording which could be replayed for everyone to see and hear exactly what happened.
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Old 24 January 2010, 06:00 PM
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Back to Richard W.'s post, she was not a newscaster. She did a local show interviewing people, etc. She began the show with an ersatz news item: that the station in keeping with covering blood and guts events would be bringing a first, an on-air suicide. As noted before, anything taped was given to the family.

I have a hard time imagining that the station would want to share anything they had with other news sources. Really what would be gained.

Now, with Bud Dwyer, his suicide was captured by a number of media outlets. He was the Pennsylvania state treasurer and embroiled in a scandal. He called a press conference and shot himself. I think some Western Pa TV stations may have rebroadcast it at least once. One Harrisburg station carried it live. It was a snowy day and a lot of kids were home from school that day.

Ali "what a terrible topic!" Infree
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  #7  
Old 24 January 2010, 07:09 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Joostik View Post
Why would the station make a (at that time expensive) tape copy of a live news broadcast?
As noted earlier in this thread, the program in question wasn't a news broadcast; it was a talk show. The station might have videorecorded such a program for any number of reasons: to maintain a reference copy, to use as proofs for advertisers, to provide as a favor to a guest who had requested a tape of his/her appearance in advance, etc.

The real issue is why anyone outside the station would have recorded the show, given that such home-taping equipment was relatively rare and expensive at the time.
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  #8  
Old 24 January 2010, 09:03 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Joostik View Post
Why would the station make a (at that time expensive) tape copy of a live news broadcast?
Doesn't the linked article say that the broadcast in question was the first one with a new format, in which Christine Chubbuck did a short news update at the beginning of the show? It could be why the station was taping it. Or am I misunderstanding the article?

-RB
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  #9  
Old 24 January 2010, 09:17 PM
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I thought the scanned article said that it was taped at her request.
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  #10  
Old 24 January 2010, 09:20 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Auntie Witch View Post
I thought the scanned article said that it was taped at her request.
At "her insistence," specifically.
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  #11  
Old 24 January 2010, 10:55 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by snopes View Post
In those pre-VCR days, it wouldn't be at all surprising that the broadcast of a live local daytime talk show was not taped by anyone. It's not like the FCC monitors and records everything ever aired by every single television station in the U.S.
IIRC the VCR was invented in the 50's. I'm assuming you meant the "new" technology was not available everywhere for every moment to be recorded
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  #12  
Old 25 January 2010, 03:02 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Livingadream View Post
IIRC the VCR was invented in the 50's. I'm assuming you meant the "new" technology was not available everywhere for every moment to be recorded
Various videotape devices have been around since the 1950s. What is commonly referred to as a "VCR" -- a mass market consumer product for home taping of television broadcasts -- did not exist until the late 1970s.
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  #13  
Old 07 April 2010, 12:27 AM
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I'm new here and this is kind of awkward. for a long time i never heard of such a thing as a real live suicide on live TV. This all started from watching 2 documentery style horror movies, "Quarantine" and "The Blair Witch Project". Those types of horror films adds fear on another level, a level that makes you think what you're seeing is real (especialy the 'Blair Witch') So i decided to "experiment" with my feelings just out of curiosity, see where it takes me. I went to Google and put in a key words like "death", "documentry", "media, cant remember all the words, it mightve been a phrase, cant really remember. I looked at the results, and my eyes seemed to have locked on "American television news reporter who committed suicide during a live television broadcast." Someone once told me that psychology says our psyche's do not sort out visuals as being from fantasy; it is all recorded as real ... death is death to our mind's lens ... So when i stumbled upon that story, i was shocked...just imagine watching CNN, Foxnews or some other news and all of a sudden you see that...this is no documentery style horror film made to look real...THIS WAS REAL! What you just saw was REAL! hearing the Chubbuck and Dwyer story sorta helped me put things into better perspective.
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  #14  
Old 24 May 2010, 11:27 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Joostik View Post
Why would the station make a (at that time expensive) tape copy of a live news broadcast? Also, from the eyewitnes report, it doesn't sound like there was any kind of recording which could be replayed for everyone to see and hear exactly what happened.
Snopes already answered that, but I'm presuming that copies sent to guests or advertisers had the suicide edited out, so while tapes of the show might technically exist, they don't contain the relevant footage.

If anybody saved that footage, it'll be somebody who worked in editing, who saved a private copy. If there's really some sort of court injunction, this theoretical editor could get in trouble for making the footage public. At some point, though, the injunction will expire, I imagine, and so will any sort of copyright the studio might have, then the footage might appear. Don't hold your breath.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Livingadream View Post
IIRC the VCR was invented in the 50's. I'm assuming you meant the "new" technology was not available everywhere for every moment to be recorded

Quote:
Originally Posted by snopes View Post
Various videotape devices have been around since the 1950s. What is commonly referred to as a "VCR" -- a mass market consumer product for home taping of television broadcasts -- did not exist until the late 1970s.
If you've ever watched the Mary Tyler Moore Show, which is set partly in a TV news office, the characters often use an old videotape playback machine. Sometimes, they use something huge, like the size of a window AC unit, that plays reel-to-reel tape, wider than VHS tape. I'm not sure whether it has its own playback screen, or whether it's so big, you can't see the TV it's connected to. Other times, they use what looks like a really large, top loading VHS VCR, about 3 inches taller, and two inches wider than the ones that first came on the market around 1978, and cost around $400. The tapes look like VHS tapes, only a little bigger, and it plays back on a 19" portable TV.

Since it's a TV show within a TV show, I'm assuming this particular detail is fairly accurate, since the "prop" would just be a matter of wheeling in some actual equipment the studio had. Probably some outdated equipment the studio didn't use, since that's probably what WJM would have.
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Old 26 May 2010, 09:15 AM
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Just for the record, I went to high school in the mid-70s (graduated in '76), and video cameras & VCRs ~ VHS and BetaMax ~ were quite common. Even my tiny school on a tiny Naval base was able to tape basketball games, stageplays and concerts. The local AFRTS* station taped all live broadcasts (I worked one year as an intern there). It makes sense that a news station would have at least that level of access to video recording, and would tape live broadcasts just in case something happened that ticked off the FCC, an advertiser, Management, etc.

I suspect there was probably footage at one time, but it's been..."lost."

Video cameras go back further than some people think:
http://www.labguysworld.com/VTR-Museum_002.htm
I have no idea whatsoever what equipment might have been used in my school, only that it was bulky, the camera was always on a tripod, and that the kids who ran all the AV stuff were even weirder than me.

*American Forces Radio and Television Service

Last edited by Critterbites; 26 May 2010 at 09:27 AM. Reason: I missed my own point on the first try.
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  #16  
Old 26 May 2010, 09:40 AM
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When I was at school in the 1970s we sometimes watched taped programmes (more often lessons had to be scheduled around when the programme was broadcast because taping wasn't easily available). The tape was reel to reel, fiddly and often poor quality. Not till the 80s did the school (and many homes) get truly portable home-videotaping equipment. I knew a few enthusiasts who had equipment a bit earlier, but it was incredibly expensive and they rationed their tape to use on things like Dr Who.
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  #17  
Old 26 May 2010, 03:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DeRick View Post
I'm new here and this is kind of awkward. for a long time i never heard of such a thing as a real live suicide on live TV. This all started from watching 2 documentery style horror movies, "Quarantine" and "The Blair Witch Project". Those types of horror films adds fear on another level, a level that makes you think what you're seeing is real (especialy the 'Blair Witch') So i decided to "experiment" with my feelings just out of curiosity, see where it takes me. I went to Google and put in a key words like "death", "documentry", "media, cant remember all the words, it mightve been a phrase, cant really remember. I looked at the results, and my eyes seemed to have locked on "American television news reporter who committed suicide during a live television broadcast." Someone once told me that psychology says our psyche's do not sort out visuals as being from fantasy; it is all recorded as real ... death is death to our mind's lens ... So when i stumbled upon that story, i was shocked...just imagine watching CNN, Foxnews or some other news and all of a sudden you see that...this is no documentery style horror film made to look real...THIS WAS REAL! What you just saw was REAL! hearing the Chubbuck and Dwyer story sorta helped me put things into better perspective.
I understand what you are saying. I am a horror film fan, the gorier , the better. I have no problem seeing blood and gore, even operations on discovery channel. However I made the mistake of watching the Daniel Perl video on the internet, knowing it was real, it was awful. I still have alot of remorse in watching that.
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  #18  
Old 26 May 2010, 10:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Critterbites View Post
Just for the record, I went to high school in the mid-70s (graduated in '76), and video cameras & VCRs ~ VHS and BetaMax ~ were quite common. Even my tiny school on a tiny Naval base was able to tape basketball games, stageplays and concerts. The local AFRTS* station taped all live broadcasts (I worked one year as an intern there). It makes sense that a news station would have at least that level of access to video recording, and would tape live broadcasts just in case something happened that ticked off the FCC, an advertiser, Management, etc.
The point isn't whether the technology existed, but whether it's likely that anyone with a home VCR caught the broadcast.

First, the machines that studios used were huge and heavy, and you couldn't walk into a store and buy one. A home-user who was really determined could probably get one, but at the expense of a couple of thousand 1970 dollars, I'm sure. Then, you couldn't just walk into a store and buy the tapes. You'd have to order them through a supplier, which meant sending a letter or order blank, along with a check, through the mail, and waiting several weeks. Ordering several at a time would cut down shipping costs, and save you having to wait again when you needed another one, but the tapes, which may not even have been cassettes at this point, but reels, would probably be expensive too. The expense was one reason that the technology was not offered comercially.

There was another reason the machines were not comercially available, though. Cable television was not available everywhere, which meant that reception for a lot of people was dicey. People would not spend a lot of money for a VCR and tapes, if a rainstorm might wipe out reception the night they wanted to tape something.

So our theoretical video hog, with the expensive home technology, lives where cable is available. But that doesn't mean the machine is compatible with the cable coming from his wall. So we have someone who knows a little bit about splicing connections, and has access to electronics equipment, which wasn't a section in a department store at the time.

And, our theoretical vid-hog has to live in an area where he can pick up a broadcast of Suncoast Digest, the show Chubbock offed herself on.

Then, he has to keep the tape, not lose it, spill coffee on it, or lend it to someone who doesn't return it, all the way from 1974 until 2005 (when YouTube went online), and then, if the tape hasn't deteriorated, transfer it to a medium (if he hasn't already done so) that can be uploaded, and choose to upload it.

That's a pretty unlikely convergence of events.

More likely is that some techie at the Florida studio stole a copy of the footage for himself. But he knows enough not to share it with the general public until all injunctions and copyrights have expired.

Then, he will not upload it to YouTube. He will sell it to someone for a lot of money.

So you may see it yet.

A better question is why do you want to?

I'm with Annabohly. I love fake gore as much as anyone. But I'll pass on the real stuff. I take that back-- surgery and dissections can be interesting, if someone is explaining what it happening. Real war footage, real drive-by shootings, not so much. I don't even like to see the picture of Kim Phuc, the naked, Vietnamese girl running away from the bombing with Napalm sticking to her, and that isn't even bloody.
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Old 02 September 2010, 02:57 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by annabohly View Post
I made the mistake of watching the Daniel Perl video on the internet, knowing it was real, it was awful. I still have alot of remorse in watching that.
I have the same problem with the man who was kidnapped and beheaded after 9/11. My brother was telling me how he knew a guy who worked at a radio station that had the audio clip of his death, and it disgusted him when he heard it. I told him how there was a link to news about it here on Snopes, and I watched it (without sound on), and was shocked when it didn't stop where it usually did on the news, and showed the whole beheading. I'm grateful I didn't have the sound on, as the sight of it was beyond awful.
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