24-hour TV coverage of Oscar trial

Samuel Mungadze

THE Oscar Pistorius murder trial‚ which starts in March, will be beamed into South African homes on a 24-hour "pop-up channel" to be launched by pay-television provider MultiChoice. The world-famous Paralympic athlete will stand trial after he shot dead his girlfriend‚ Reeva Steenkamp‚ at his Pretoria home on Valentine's Day last year.

MultiChoice said yesterday the trial channel‚ presented in association with the producers of current affairs show Carte Blanche‚ would feature round- the-clock coverage of the legal proceedings‚ as well as documentaries‚ profiles and analysis.

It would be the first time in Africa that such a channel was used to cover a major news event.

"We previously added dedicated channels for special events such as Idols and Big Brother‚" MultiChoice's head of content Aletta Alberts said. "This pop-up channel will give our viewers in-depth coverage of the Oscar Pistorius trial‚ with a rich variety of content and social media integration."

The channel will be available exclusively to DStv Premium‚ Extra and Compact customers.

The trial is scheduled to run in the High Court in Pretoria from March 3-20.

The trial judge would decide closer to the start date whether any part of the proceedings would be broadcast live‚ according to MultiChoice.

On February 14 last year‚ Pistorius fired four shots through a bathroom door in his home and killed Steenkamp. He claims he mistook her for a burglar and acted in self-defence.

Monday would have been her 30th birthday.

After the shooting Pistorius was released on R1-million bail. Some of the bail conditions have been amended since then.

The Herald Facebook users were divided over the decision to dedicate a 24-hour channel to the trial.

Pauline Breetzke Bekker said: "Why all this fuss with his trial? Think of her parents please!"

Rodney Louis felt it was a case many would follow, "so why not" have the channel. Michelle Geel was "really not interested, couldn't care less".

Chantelle Ashworth said having a channel dedicated to the trial was "media sensationalism to distract us from real problems in our country".

Irene Giaconi felt for "the poor families of all concerned".

"Definitely do not think worth showing or appropriate to make infamy fame," she said.

Jessica Mckelvey said it was "pathetic".

"He is either innocent or guilty. I have my opinion. One thing he is not is GOD. I won't waste my time watching."

Claire West said having a channel was "drastic".

"This is not such a huge case for goodness sake," she said. Zandisile Fila felt the channel dedicated to the trial was "economically smart".