Friday, December 15, 2006

Uproar Over Belgian TV Hoax

An applied experiment showing the power that the mainstream media holds over the minds of the masses:

Belgians reacted with widespread alarm to news that their country had been split in two - before finding out they had been spoofed.

The Belgian public television station RTBF ran a bogus report saying the Dutch-speaking half of the nation had declared independence.

Later it said Wednesday night's programme was meant to stir up debate.

It appears to have succeeded. Thousands of people made panicked calls to the station and politicians complained. ...

The French-language TV channel interrupted regular programming with an apparent news report, announcing that Dutch-speaking Flanders had unilaterally declared independence and that Belgium as a nation had ceased to exist.

It showed "live" pictures of cheering crowds holding the Flemish flag, huge traffic jams leading to Brussels airport, and trams stuck at the new "border".

The broadcast came amid an apparent growth of separatist sentiment in Flanders.

Recent regional elections have shown strong support for the far-right, nationalist Vlaams Belang party, which advocates Flemish independence. ...

The AFP news agency reported that even some foreign ambassadors in Brussels were taken in, and sent urgent messages back to their respective capitals.


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