(Thumbnail image: Imedi TV screen shot/BBC)


A TV station in the Eastern European country of Georgia caused panic after broadcasting a fake report saying Russia had invaded the country and killed its president, Mikheil Saakashvili.

When terrified Georgians realized the report was a hoax, they stormed the station in protest--with some calling the report a "criminal act."

Global news outlets report overloaded phone networks as emergency calls streamed in during the fake report. And although Imedi TV had run a brief disclaimer before the broadcast, a euronews report highlights the outrage the report had already sparked.

 

WOMAN: "'Just tell me, how could they do this? It’s disgusting!'" (screaming)

 

MAN: "'When the situation is so tense, it’s a criminal act to make jokes on these topics. They should answer for this, in court.'"


But Al Jazeera English reports the scenario was understandable given the history of animosity between Georgia and Russia. The countries engaged in a five-day war in August of 2008.

"But it's also shown with Russian troops still holding positions an hours drive from the Georgian capitol people here really do believe that Moscow could take military action against their country again."

Civil Georgia lays out the communications code the report might have violated.

"The Georgian National Communications Commission ... requires from broadcasters to refrain from airing simulations in their political and news programs. If a broadcaster anyway decides to do so it is required 'to clearly explain' to viewers that it is a fiction ..."

The Georgian government's opposition quickly pounced on the hoax, accusing President Saakashvili of orchestrating the report to unite Georgians in support of the government. Russia Today talks with a political analyst from Russia Profile Magazine--who says that allegation is a possibility.

"The problem is that Mr. Saakashvili has very little things that he can do now. After the brief war last year, he can't attack a second time. That would be political suicide. He can't apply too much diplomatic pressure on Russia because he has been discredited. So the only thing that is left to him is PR moves ... The problem is that he needs a constant flow of news to show his own people that he is actually doing something. That's the only reason why he needs this kind of report."


But Iran's Press TV reports Saakashvili's administration is distancing itself from the report, condemning it as irresponsible.

REPORTER: "The president's spokeperson, who herself worked for Imedi TV, said the broadcast went against journalistic ethics."

 

SPOKESPERSON: "We understand that people are extremely worried. That's why the president sent me here to the studio. The president thinks at the very least they should have made it clear that it was a dramatization, what Imedi TV did was not enough."

So what do you think? Did Imedi TV go too far?

 

Writer: Newsy Staff

Producer: Nathan Giannini

Georgians Panic After Fake Report of Russian Invasion

by Christina Hartman
0
Transcript
Mar 15, 2010

Georgians Panic After Fake Report of Russian Invasion

(Thumbnail image: Imedi TV screen shot/BBC)


A TV station in the Eastern European country of Georgia caused panic after broadcasting a fake report saying Russia had invaded the country and killed its president, Mikheil Saakashvili.

When terrified Georgians realized the report was a hoax, they stormed the station in protest--with some calling the report a "criminal act."

Global news outlets report overloaded phone networks as emergency calls streamed in during the fake report. And although Imedi TV had run a brief disclaimer before the broadcast, a euronews report highlights the outrage the report had already sparked.

 

WOMAN: "'Just tell me, how could they do this? It’s disgusting!'" (screaming)

 

MAN: "'When the situation is so tense, it’s a criminal act to make jokes on these topics. They should answer for this, in court.'"


But Al Jazeera English reports the scenario was understandable given the history of animosity between Georgia and Russia. The countries engaged in a five-day war in August of 2008.

"But it's also shown with Russian troops still holding positions an hours drive from the Georgian capitol people here really do believe that Moscow could take military action against their country again."

Civil Georgia lays out the communications code the report might have violated.

"The Georgian National Communications Commission ... requires from broadcasters to refrain from airing simulations in their political and news programs. If a broadcaster anyway decides to do so it is required 'to clearly explain' to viewers that it is a fiction ..."

The Georgian government's opposition quickly pounced on the hoax, accusing President Saakashvili of orchestrating the report to unite Georgians in support of the government. Russia Today talks with a political analyst from Russia Profile Magazine--who says that allegation is a possibility.

"The problem is that Mr. Saakashvili has very little things that he can do now. After the brief war last year, he can't attack a second time. That would be political suicide. He can't apply too much diplomatic pressure on Russia because he has been discredited. So the only thing that is left to him is PR moves ... The problem is that he needs a constant flow of news to show his own people that he is actually doing something. That's the only reason why he needs this kind of report."


But Iran's Press TV reports Saakashvili's administration is distancing itself from the report, condemning it as irresponsible.

REPORTER: "The president's spokeperson, who herself worked for Imedi TV, said the broadcast went against journalistic ethics."

 

SPOKESPERSON: "We understand that people are extremely worried. That's why the president sent me here to the studio. The president thinks at the very least they should have made it clear that it was a dramatization, what Imedi TV did was not enough."

So what do you think? Did Imedi TV go too far?

 

Writer: Newsy Staff

Producer: Nathan Giannini

View More
Comments
Newsy
www1