Yves Bigot trades RTBF for Endemol France


BRUSSELS -- Frenchman Yves Bigot is stepping down as head of television for Belgian public broadcaster RTBF on Sept. 1 and taking up a post at Endemol France.

Bigot, 53, a former soccer player, was co-founder of the groundbreaking French program "Les Enfants du Rock" and a former France 2 program director. He will remain an outside consultant for the broadcaster.

RTBF, the national broadcasting organization for Belgium's French-speaking half, operates four TV channels and six radio stations.

"Since February 2006, Yves Bigot has undertaken important work that enabled our channels to reaffirm their identity in very competitive environment and our audiences to increase, while respecting our public service mission," an RTBF statement said.

Bigot was notably involved in the most controversial broadcast in Belgian history, in December 2006, when RTBF interrupted its normal television programs with a fake news bulletin declaring that the country was to split in two. The broadcast, prepared in secret over months, claimed that the Dutch-speaking region of Flanders had declared independence, and that the king had fled the country. But the elaborate hoax was condemned as irresponsible by then-Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt and other political figures.

Netherlands-based TV production company Endemol, sold to the Spanish telecom and media corporation Telefonica for 5.5 billion euros in 2000, has enjoyed spectacular success selling programs across the world, including "Deal or No Deal," "Fear Factor" and "Ready Steady Cook." Its "Big Brother" and "Star Academy" programs have been among the most popular in France.