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Oscar Pistorius TV trial will be a defining moment in broadcast history

2014-02-28 14:04
oscar pistorius
Cape Town – South African TV and broadcasting experts are calling the broadcast of the Oscar Pistorius murder trial on dedicated television channels and radio "a seminal moment in broadcast history".

"You have to understand that this is a seminal moment in broadcast history," George Mazarakis, the executive producer of Carte Blanche and the executive producer of the Oscar Pistorius trial TV channel on DStv told Channel24.

"We were preparing for this trial as if we're going to get nothing at all from the judge," said Mazarakis.

"To have achieved what we have is not only a significant moment in the history of South African jurisprudence but a testimony to the importance of open justice in the South African democracy".

"It is also for us a victory in terms of being able to present to our audiences a very complete picture – a more complete picture of how the judicial system works. It is a way of showing that everyone is capable of a free trial or can receive a free and fair trial.”

"People are critical and saying that broadcasters shouldn't be asking for these things. But actually it is the way to ensure a fair trial because the spotlight is on the courts".

Court trial broadcast ‘is good news’

The veteran South African broadcast expert and researcher Kate Skinner told Channel24 that the court judgement to allow broadcasting of the Oscar Pistorius court trial "is good news".

"It is practical, sensible and balances the rights of the public to know and to follow the case while at the same time ensuring that the court proceedings aren't unnecessarily disturbed. This sets a good precedent for the rights of the broadcast media to cover these high profile trials in future," she said.

"There has been a lot of interest around the Oscar Pistorius case among our viewers, therefore we would like to afford our viewers the opportunity to witness and follow the trial of Oscar Pistorius as it happens," said Monde Twala,'s head of channels as to why is doing a 24-hour trial channel of its own on OVHD.

From Sunday MultiChoice will run its own 24-hour, dedicated Oscar Pistorius trial TV channel on DStv on channel 199 with a live court feed, as well as live discussion content and pre-packaged documentaries and inserts.

From Monday Sabido's Platco Digital will run also its own 24-hour, dedicated Oscar Pistorius trial TV channel on OpenView HD (OVHD) on channel 119 that will beam court proceedings daily from 10:00 to 16:00 and then loop it in repeat blocks.

TV and radio news channels ranging from eNCA (DStv 403), ANN7 (DStv 405), Sky News (DStv 402) and Eyewitnessnews (EWN) plan dedicated, rolling court proceedings and news coverage on the Oscar Pistorius court case.

Broadcasters ‘preparing very thoroughly for this’

"MultiChoice's channel will feature an incredible breadth of content," Aletta Alberts, MultiChoice's head of content told Channel24. "It's not going to be just a one dimensional 'Oh, this is the trial and we're going to do analysis', type TV channel," she explained.

"There's important pieces, profiles on the lawyers, profiles on the witnesses; the DStv channel is a fully comprehensive 360 degress and not just about Oscar Pistorius and the court trial”.

"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," Mazarakis said.

"I must make it clear that that particular application that was granted was an application that we as past of the MultiChoice group negotiated with the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA). This was a very different application from the one applied for my".

"The application we brought was deeply considered, a great deal of behind-the-scenes work went into it. And we came to a conclusion that we couldn't ask for blanket coverage".

"It wasn't what the judicial system would be ready to give us at this point. Remember it had never been granted before. So what we achieved is a remarkable result. Basically blanket coverage on audio and we got quite a lot of television coverage on top of it," Mazarakis explained.

'No holds barred'

Regarding the broadcast feed George Mazarakis said "we provide the actual physical mechanism for accredited media to plug into. And then what they do with it is up to them but there are no holds barred. Everybody who is an accredited broadcaster around the world would be able to access it".

"The feed will be made available to all media, not to the public – I think the public thinks that they're going to get access to that feed,” said Alberts.

“That feed will be on the DStv Oscar Pistorius TV channel and on other accredited broadcasters. It is free of charge, at a point where different broadcasters then picks it up and delivers it to their own station”.

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