Friday, January 04, 2008

Reality TV in Czech Republic

Six Czech hackers may go to jail for up to three years for playing around with a weather camera mounted on top of a TV tower near Krkonose which overlooks the "Giant Mountains". In many countries in Central Europe, the morning broadcasts are filled with live "webcam" type shots of various parts of the country. In a few seconds you get an idea of what the weather is like, and the current temperature is displayed on screen as well. The story goes that the hackers, famous for other publicity stunts, somehow cut the feed from the camera, grabbed some footage and then montaged what looks like a nuclear explosion onto the shot - not that difficult with editing software costing a few hundred Euros at most. They then played the video back through a laptop. So Czech Tv thought they were accessing the live webcam, when infact they were accessing the modified footage from these Czech hackers-artists. They say they did it to highlight the fact that what you see on TV is not always the real story. Czech TV doesn't see the joke and has taken them to court for tampering with the equipment and misleading the public. The group, called "Ztohoven", seem to have taken the video off their website, but the explanation is still there.

All this reminds me of projects in the UK in the late 1970's when engineers hijacked BBC transmitter networks, showing how vulnerable they were to misuse by the IRA. Broadcasters have a habit of lapsing into a false sense of security.

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