A hoax video purportedly showing Michael Jackson emerging from a coroner's van was an experiment aimed at showing how quickly misinformation and conspiracy theories can race across the Internet, German broadcaster RTL said Tuesday.
The video was posted by RTL on YouTube for a single day a week ago and received
The broadcaster has since removed the video from YouTube, but it has been picked up by other Web sites around the world.
"We wanted to show how easily users can be manipulated on the Internet with hoax videos,
" spokesman Heike Schultz of Cologne-based RTL told the Associated Press.
"Therefore, we created this video of Michael Jackson being alive, even though everybody knows by now that he is dead -- and the response was breathtaking."
Jackson died June 25 in Los Angeles.
The video -- posted under an "anonymous source" -- shows a coroner's van entering what seems like a parking garage and the King of Pop getting out of the back with another person.
The lighting is bad, the sound muffled and the footage appears amateurish.
"Unfortunately, many people believed it was true," Schultz said.
"Even though we tried to create the video in a way that every normal user can see right away that it is a fake."
He said the video was shot near Cologne -- "definitely not in the U.S."
The van in the video had the word "CORONER" printed in English, suggesting it had been recorded in America.
RTL admitted to the hoax in an Aug. 26 report on its daily news show Explosiv.
Hoaxes and rumors commonly spread like wildfire on the Internet.
Videos of flying saucers and impossible stunts routinely are among the most-viewed on video-sharing sites, though purported evidence of the deceased being alive is less common than false rumors of someone's death.
The rise of Twitter and its real-time microblogging has quickened the pace.
American actor Patrick Swayze, who is battling pancreatic cancer, had to declare that he is still alive this year after thousands of Twitter users spread news that he was dead.
Actor Jeff Goldblum had to do the same.
The RTL spokesman said some Jackson fans were upset by the German broadcaster's actions.
"We didn't want to dishonor Michael Jackson, but we needed a strong name to get this experiment going," Schultz said.
"Had we used Britney Spears, then the fans of Britney would have complained."
Vivendi first-half revenue up 17%
Huge growth seen at Activision Blizzard games arm
By Rebecca Leffler
Sept 1, 2009, 11:00 AM ET
French media powerhouse Vivendi managed to weather the global economic storm during the first half of 2009, but still suffered dips in profit across the board, Europe's largest entertainment group said Tuesday.
Vivendi posted a 6.6% rise in second-quarter net profit and revenue reached €13.2 billion ($18.89 billion) in the first half of the year, up 17% compared to the first half of 2008.
The colossal success of the group's games division Activision Blizzard offset losses at Universal music and Gallic mobile group SFR.
Activision Blizzard, which Vivendi bought up in 2007, boasted two of the top five best-selling titles in the U.S. and Europe during the first six months of the year, namely "Guitar Hero World Tour" and "Call of Duty: World at War."
"Vivendi achieved a very solid first half 2009 in a difficult environment," Vivendi's CEO Jean-Bernard Levy said in a statement, adding:
"The group is successfully weathering the current economic slowdown, which is having a real, but limited impact.
"Meanwhile, French pay TV group Canal Plus increased its subscriptions, boosting the group's revenue to €2.2 billion ($3.15 billion) at the end of June.
Disney hires Wodtke for biz dev
Asia Pac VP will report to Gilby
September 01, 2009
By Patrick Frater
HONG KONG --
Industry veteran Nicholas Wodtke has been hired as Disney-ABC International Television's Asia Pacific vice president of business strategy and development and new media.
Wodtke was previously CEO of producer and distributor Snap TV.
Before that he was senior vice president of interactive television at Sony Pictures Digital Entertainment and before that he held roles at Taiwan cable channel Super Television, Sony's AXN and at Sony Pictures' Motion Picture Finance group structuring joint venture financing for Columbia Pictures' movie slate.
Based in Hong Kong, he will report to Rob Gilby, Disney TV's Asia Pacific senior vice president and managing director.
"We see amazing growth potential and new business opportunities across the region fueled by the rapid evolution of digital technologies.
We are aggressively pursuing digital media opportunities," Gilby said.