Thursday, December 14, 2006

A Bad Belgian Joke

We interrupt this program, with an exceptional second post in one day (!!!!) to tell you about what happened in Belgium yesterday night (Thanks to Gregg for the heads-up).

At 8:20 PM, heart of prime time, Belgium most important French-speaking TV Network, the RTBF, interrupted their programs with a "urgent news alert", saying The Flandres, the Flemish-speaking part of the country, had proclaimed their independence, and that the Kingdom of Belgium was no more. According to them, the royal couple had even fled out of the country.
This broadcast was incredibly professional, featuring their big-star news anchor and plenty of journalists and personalities giving their take on the situation. They even hired extras to organize a fake demonstration in front of the parliament.
You can take a look at a quick montage by following this link (in french):,11-0@2-3208,32-844527@51-845391,0.html

Well, all that was fake - but you wouldn't know it, since only a few seconds-long "this might not be fiction" card had appeared, before the broadcast, on the air.

The reaction was tremendous. People started reacting all around the country, old people collapsed crying, everyone was in shock. I'd understand them. Imagine learning in the middle of watching American Idol that the former separatist states just proclaimed their independence at the senate!!!!!!

But what I want to write here, is HOW DUMB AND TOTALLY IMMATURE, NOT TO MENTION DANGEROUS it was from a national network to do such a thing. According to their chairman, the point was to prove to Belgian people how united they really are.

Should we remind TV Networks that their role is not to judge, not to create the news and even less to plunge a whole country into chaos? Their role is to INFORM AND ENTERTAIN.

Networks have a lot of power, it's a fact. They can influence the opinion of the majority of a country, but it's also their duty to always seek the truth and look for a balance in their opinion pieces and other broadcast - and never abuse their position and power.

What the RTBF did yesterday would be considered in other part of the world to be nothing less than a coup, going far beyond its rights. It is as morally doubtful as OJ's latest book project, and far more dangerous in its consequences: docu-fiction is an existing genre - just ask the folks from the History channel - they contain countless "if"s and a clear mention that everything is fiction. Yesterday's RTBF piece did not. I do believe people responsible for this should be prosecuted.

1 comment:

Nicolas said...

What's even more weird is that some members of the government were in the secret and appeared in the fiction, giving their opinion on the "event"...

How irresponsible. Especially when the Wlams Belang is having a peak in popularity and the last only thing holding the country together is their monarch.