[LEAPSECS] New Year in Times Square

Jonathan E. Hardis jhardis at tcs.wap.org
Sat Jan 1 14:16:24 EST 2011

On Jan 1, 2011, at 9:52 AM, Daniel R. Tobias wrote:

> The network techies, however, do need to concern themselves with

> being precisely synced to whatever time standard the Times Square

> people use; it would be embarrassing if the ball dropped a second

> early or late compared to their countdown. This means that if there

> was a leap second at UTC midnight (a few hours before New York

> midnight), they'd better all be on the same page with regard to

> applying it (or not).

It doesn't quite work that way. A data point, on how one of the most
technically adept broadcasters in the U.S. deals with leap seconds:

> From: Brew <brew at themode.com>

> Date: December 31, 2008 10:38:24 PM EST

> To: "Broadcasters' Mailing List" <broadcast at radiolists.net>

> Subject: [BC] Re: Leap Year


> Here at CBS-TV in NY the whole network is currently one second early -

> at least since the leap second occurred at 18:59:59 EST. The network

> runs on a Cesium time standard and once a day, at just a little past 2

> AM the correct time is jammed into the time code generator.


> We'll throw in the extra second then.


> I think the time code will correct by itself with the jam, but the

> Favag stepping clocks have to miss one pulse to make them correct.

> The pulse is dropped manually, but if they are unlucky they'll time it

> wrong and drop two pulses, so then they'll have to double step ahead

> and try to sync up again by stopping the clock altogether and counting

> down until starting them again.


> And since the clock pulses are positive one second, then negative the

> next........


> There are two people coming in on OT for this! But I'll be gone by

> then.......... at the stoke of midnight I'll be sleeping on the train

> on the way home.


> I wonder if the ball in Times Square will drop one second early.

> Maybe they'll pretend that the leap second happens at midnight EST and

> "stop the clock' for one second just before the ball hits bottom.


> I was watching the NIST clock at http://time.gov to see if it showed

> 18:59:60, but I was interrupted by another problem and missed it.

> Drat, now I have to wait another few years until the next leap second

> is needed.


> brew Bruce Schiller at CBS-TV NY Master Control Maintenance and


- Jonathan

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