Bomb threat disrupts season finale of German TV model show

By Maria Sheahan

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - A bomb threat and an unattended suitcase prompted German broadcaster ProSieben to stop the finale of model competition show Germany's Next Topmodel and evacuate thousands of people from the event's venue on Thursday.

An unidentified female person called in a bomb threat at around 9 p.m. local time (1900 GMT), prompting ProSieben to interrupt the show, presented by German model Heidi Klum, and clear the SAP Arena in the southwestern German city of Mannheim, from where it was being broadcast, Mannheim police said.

In addition, a red flag was raised by a suspicious suitcase near the cloakroom, which was later found not to have contained any explosives, they said. The rest of the venue is being searched with a bomb-sniffing dog, they added.

ProSieben said on its Twitter account: "We're sorry. We'll no longer be broadcasting today."

Police said the audience of around 8,000 to 10,000 people left the SAP Arena in a calm fashion. Newspaper Bild reported on its website that Klum, her daughter Leni and the show's jury had been taken to an undisclosed location outside the venue.

"Unfortunately we couldn't celebrate our big finale the way we had planned," Klum said on Facebook, adding a winner of the contest would be named within a few days.

Germany's Next Topmodel, a reality TV show based on model Tyra Banks' show America's Next Top Model, has faced some criticism in the 10 seasons it has been running, from groups saying it conveys unrealistic ideals of beauty to teenage viewers.

German regional media regulator mabb said this month it would initiate an investigation of the show's effect on teenagers following a complaint from activist group PinkStinks.

ProSieben has said it welcomed the scrutiny, saying that all independent regulators that had looked into the show so far had found it to be suitable for children aged six years and up.

(Additional reporting by Michelle Martin in Berlin; Editing by Christian Plumb and Lisa Shumaker)