Why Dutch people wrapped their TVs in aluminum foil in 1969

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The big news in Holland Tuesday is that a TV report claiming that soccer star Mark van Bommel is planning to become a German citizen was a hoax that Van Bommel helped manufacture. This is very funny stuff in Holland, I think. (You want to become a … German?!? Ha ha ha ha ha.)

Anyway, I didn’t find it all that funny, but a roundup of classic Dutch media hoaxes in the NRC Handelsblad (they’re a “Dutch tradition,” the headline reads) included these two items that did make me laugh (loose translations mine):

* ‘Rudi Schokker Cries No More’ was the name of a fake documentary broadcast on VPRO in 1974 … about a baby born near a runway at Schiphol airport who cried like a fighter jet.

* Perhaps the best April Fools’ joke of the (Youth) Journal [a news program] came in 1969. Special cars would drive around with scanners to track down television owners who hadn’t paid the license fee [it’s like in the UK, where you have to pay a fee to the BBC]. But if you wrapped the TV in aluminum foil, you could fool the scanners. Before long there was no foil to be found in stores.