Technology has facilitated a new breed of hostage-takings. Televised hostage-takings are facilitated by inexpensive video cameras and the Internet, but even more importantly by TV-stations who choose to broadcast extracts from hostage-takers' videos. The videos are designed to make the hostage-takers appear as influential and powerful people. For televised hostage-takings it appears that spreading the video is often more important for the hostage-takers than actually getting the authorities to yield to their demands. This decreased importance of political demands has resulted in some hostage-takings having quite moderate demands. Contrary to what one might expect, moderate demands may complicate the choice of strategy for the authorities, making yielding to demands a more viable option. Two models constitute the foundation for the theory presented here: the hostage-game from game theory, and a model developed by the author to describe the paths of influence from hostage-takers to authorities. This influence may go via TV-stations, family of the hostage and public opinion. The key to effectively countering televised hostage-takings lays just as much in the hands of media executives as in politicians' or other government officials'.
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