Join Date: 13 Jan 2004
Location: Florence, Italy
Belgium 'abolished' -
Belgians were thrown into a panic when a spoof TV news report said their country had been 'abolished'.
Government offices were flooded with calls after the report that the Dutch-speaking Flanders region had declared independence and Belgium no longer existed as a nation.
The French-language RTBF interrupted programming to show footage of cheering crowds waving the Flemish flag and traffic jams at the new border.
Even foreign diplomats were taken in by the hoax which the station said was designed to show tensions between the French and Dutch-speaking communities.
Belgium's broadcasting minister eventually ordered the station to flash up the words "this is fiction" over the broadcast, reports the Daily Record.
A spokesman for Belgian prime minister Guy Verhofstadt said: "It was in very bad taste. It scared many people."
RTBF television's head of news Yves Thiran said: "Our intention was to show viewers the real possibility of Belgium no longer being a country in a few months."
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