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Oscar case: First time in SA history that uncensored images of victim's body was shown on TV

2014-04-10 11:57
Cape Town – According to eNCA (DStv 403) they took an editorial decision not to rebroadcast the shocking images of a dead Reeva Steenkamp and her gruesome head wounds which broadcasters aired on Wednesday.

The news channel has also now added an on-screen graphic warning.

South African viewers were shocked on Wednesday when, with no prior warning and no blurring, grizzly images were shown on local TV of the dead Reeva Steenkamp and her gruesome head injuries taken on the night she was shot and killed by Oscar Pistorius.

The emotional paralympic athlete, who shot his girlfriend on 14 February 2013, is currently on the stand in the North Gauteng High Court on a charge of premeditated murder.

eNCA tells Channel24 that the channel didn't repeat broadcast the images and that it is M-Net's Carte Blanche controlling the TV feed, not eNCA.

While eNCA didn’t repeat the images, the Oscar Pistorius trial TV channel on MultiChoice's DStv platform on DStv channel 199 showed the gruesome, extremely graphic and highly disturbing images again to viewers on Wednesday, unblurred, and with an on-screen restriction of just 13.

Sky News (DStv 402) in a filed and edited story late on Wednesday included the images, but blurred it, warned viewers, and told them the images on the monitor behind the prosecutor and the big image shown full-screen, are going to be blurred.

The shocking on-air broadcast on Wednesday of the images made cringe-worthy South African television history.

It was the first time in South African television history that an image/photo of a victim, photographed dead on the scene by the police, was shown on television in live TV coverage of a court case and a murder trial.

'Gratuitous to show the image deliberately'

'"eNCA has no control over the live pool feed, this is managed by Carte Blanche," Patrick Conroy, the group head of news at Sabido's 24-hour TV news channel tells Channel24.

"eNCA did not rebroadcast the image in later bulletins, although DStv channel 199 did. We cannot explain the rationale for doing so."

"Please note the clear direction we have from the prosecution is that broadcasters can show anything on the screens, for instance photos and Whatsapp messages. Where photos to be used are graphic, the prosecutors were alerting Carte Blanche beforehand".

"They informed us that the prosecution did not do so with the image used yesterday".

"Despite the Prosecution's silence on the matter, eNCA feels it would be gratuitous to show the image deliberately".

"We have as a result of this incident, implemented an on-screen graphic warning at all times, should another picture be inadvertently shown," says Conroy.

"It was a very, very graphic image," said Alex Crawford, the Sky News special correspondent, covering the Oscar Pistorius murder trial on Sky News, "showing both bullet entry and exit wounds, brain matter all in her hair. And it was utter shocking".

"It got uncomfortable for people seeing Reeva's head up there, and it being juxtaposed with the watermelon exploding because of some fired shots. It painted a graphic and disturbing picture," said prof. Tawana Kupe, Wits academic and journalist, interviewed Wednesday night on the Oscar Pistorius trial TV channel.

Besides eNCA, Sky News and the Oscar Pistorius trial TV channel on DStv, viewers are also watching the live court room coverage of the highly sensational trial on SABC News (DStv 404) and ANN7 (DStv 405) which also use and show the live TV feed, as well as the Oscar Trial TV (OVHD 119) TV channel on OpenView HD.

News24 took the editorial decision to include a short clip of the image published within proper context and with the relevant warnings.
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