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DStv’s Oscar Pistorius trial TV channel ‘won’t be tabloid’

2014-02-28 12:40
Reeva Steenkamp Oscar Pistorius
Cape Town – MultiChoice's dedicated Oscar Pistorius trial TV channel starting on Sunday on DStv on channel 199 will be a serious, analytical and current affairs TV channel and won’t skew tabloid, MultiChoice and Carte Blanche are promising.

MultiChoice’s DStv’s 24-hour Oscar Pistorius trial TV channel is one of two in South Africa which will be beaming the minute details of the court case to viewers, after the Sabido-run Platco Digital also decided to add a 24-hour Oscar Pistorius trial TV channel to its OpenView HD (OVHD) platform on channel 119 from Monday.

MultiChoice told Channel24 that the dedicated Oscar Pistorius DStv channel will integrate social media in a “revolutionary way never seen on South African television before”. The DStv channel will also make daily use of Eyewitnessnews (EWN) reporters in a combined resource sharing agreement.

From Monday the world’s eyes will be transfixed on South Africa and the court case, described as “South Africa’s OJ Simpson trial”. The paralympic athlete shot and killed his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine's Day last year, and will stand trial from Monday, accused of premeditated murder, in a story which continues to grab world attention.

Seven documentaries and 70 insert already filmed

The Oscar Pistorius trial TV channel – packaged, produced and provided by Combined Artistic Productions (which produces Carte Blanche on M-Net) – will be running for 24 hours per day with a breakfast preview show and an afternoon and late afternoon wrap-up shows. In-between it will show rolling news coverage and a wide array of documentaries and other pre-filmed inserts.

The DStv channel will also have a daily analytical show and make extensive daily use of Eyewitnessnews (EWN) reporters on television. Seven documentaries have already been produced and acquired and 70 inserts have already been produced which all will be shown on the channel.

George Mazarakis, executive producer, told Channel24 that the Oscar Pistorius trial TV channel will be "analytical and quite serious and responsible in terms of its approach".

"The content is responsible, above all, and it is legally sound. We've been very, very particular about doing that. Our presenters are legally trained".

"We have Emma Sadleir who is an expert on social media and media law in general, and David O'Sullivan from 702 who is a media lawyer by training and was in fact Carte Blanche's lawyer for many years before he became a very good broadcaster".

"And we have the Carte Blanche presenters, all of whom are by their very definition serious in their approach to their work. And that's what important about this. We also have John Webb who is a Carte Blanche presenter – he is going to be the court presence in Pretoria.”

'Won’t be tabloid'

"We're going to have breakfast shows which are going to preview the events of the day, a lunchtime break which summarises the events of the morning and looking at what will be coming in the afternoon, and a late afternoon analysis of happened in court,” said Mazarakis.

"Then there will be four hours of live programming from 18:00 to 22:00 in the evening which will take the form of both a newsier – but not news – a newsier approach to things ... meaning a current affairs approach, including some documentary material, and then an analytical programme around 20:00 which takes the legal view of what happened in court and what the procedures are. It's an educative role which is a very significant aspect of this".

"The last thing that you can call this is tabloid," Mazarakis emphasise. "It's not what we want. We have a very particular approach it".

"Remember that Carte Blanche has been based on a tradition of investigative journalism, not purely light-hearted stuff. We've won 155 awards for credible journalism, and we want that spirit to persist in this channel".

New approach to social media on television

Mazarakis told Channel24 that for the Oscar Pistorius trial TV channel Carte Blanche and EWN will be working close together to bring South African viewers all the angles and news. "There will be a synergistic relationship; we're sharing resources".

"They have eyes on the ground where we are going to be. This will also be an entirely different approach to broadcasting – social media – embracing social media not just in the approach of how we transmit and how we consume information, but we also want to engage with our audience on social media".

"With EWN, these are the most credible people on radio, we are using some of their presenters. Katy Katopodis, their news editor, is going to one of our presenters, and we're going to have crossings to Pretoria to the field reporters who will be interviewed there by John Webb who's working with us as well".

"All the journalists involved are preparing very thoroughly for this. This is a complicated matter and it has to be treated with responsibility. There is an enormous amount of research that's been done," said Mazarakis.

"The style of the channel will be a combination of current affairs and news as it happens," Aletta Alberts, MultiChoice's head of content told Channel24.

Read more on:    dstv  |  oscar pistorius  |  celebrity crime  |  tv  |  celebrities

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