DStv to launch 24/7 Oscar Pist

DStv to launch 24/7 Oscar Pistorius channel during March trial

Have you ever woken up in the middle of the night and wished you could get a nice, generous serving of Oscar Pistorius news right then and there? Well, now you can…

DStv to launch 24/7 Oscar Pist

Oscar Pistorius and Reeva Steenkamp

SOUTH AFRICA has decided that it hasn’t heard enough about Reeva Steenkamp’s murder on Valentine’s Day last year. Or rather, DStv has made that decision on behalf of all South Africans, and will be launching a new pop-up television channel dedicated to covering the media event of the year – running 24/7.

Indeed, we are not yet sure whether Pistorius may get his own dedicated cell if found guilty of the charges presented against him, but the “Blade Runner” will have his own dedicated TV channel to cover the proceedings of the court hearings, which are set to begin in Pretoria on 3 March.

The trial is expected to determine whether Pistorius is responsible for the deliberate killing of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, or whether there is credence to his version of events, saying that he mistook Steenkamp for an intruder.

The channel is being put together by M-Net’s current affairs show Carte Blanche and will be called The Oscar Pistorius Trial: A Carte Blanche Channel. The producers say they are planning to fill the gaps between actual reporting from the trial hearings with documentaries and commentary on Oscar Pistorius’s life.

The Pistorius channel is a first in assigning an entire channel just to one person – but it is not an entirely new invention when it comes to courtroom reporting: CNN had galvanised wall-to-wall style coverage of the O.J. Simpson trial in a similar manner in the USA almost 20 years ago. Simpson was eventually acquitted of murder charges relating to his wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her alleged lover Ronald Goldman. The handling of the trial by the media created precedents still used today in legal reporting worldwide and is likely to be a factor in the programming decisions taken on the Carte Blanche Pistorius channel.

However, it is not yet clear whether any of the actual courtroom proceedings will be broadcast at all; the trial judge is yet to decide what parts of the trial – if any – may be broadcast live. However, it is expected that cameras will be allowed in the courtroom at least in some capacity, as there are no jurors in South African courtrooms, voiding the likelihood of influencing or personally endangering a jury.

The trial is expected to last just under three weeks, during which DStv channel 199 will be dedicated to all things Oscar Pistorius, and will be available to customers in South Africa on the top three viewing bouquets available: Compact, Extra and Premium.

MultiChoice, owners of DStv, promise full “social media integration” as part of the initiative to start this channel and are likely to feature tweets from the public as part of their coverage. But the decision to launch the pop-up channel has received mixed reviews, with many people taking to Twitter to express their dismay at the decision to milk what is so far treated as the ‘trial of the century’ in the first place.

Whether guilty or not, Oscar Pistorius is set to at least become a “guilty pleasure” for many.

By Sertan Sanderson, 2014