THE BIG DEBATE BURSTS BACK - WITH REDI TLHABI

Friday, February 28, 2014

BREAKING. South African televisionaries George Mazarakis and Aletta Alberts talk content of MultiChoice's Oscar Pistorius trial TV channel on DStv.


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MultiChoice's dedicated Oscar Pistorius trial TV channel starting on Sunday on DStv on channel 199 will be an analytical and current affairs TV channel which will integrate social media in a revolutionary way never seen on South African television before, as well as making daily use of Eyewitnessnews (EWN) reporters in a sinergistic resource sharing agreement.

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.

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 hour per day with a breakfast preview show and an afternoon and late afternoon wrap-up shows.

In-between there will be rolling news coverage and a wide array of documentaries and other pre-filmed inserts.

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

George Mazarakis, executive producer tells TV with Thinus hat 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 its 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 - you might know him - he is going to be the court presence in Pretoria," says George Mazarakis.

"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".

"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," George Mazarakis stresses to me. "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".

George Mazarakis tells me 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 sinergistic relationship; we're sharing resources".

"They have eyes on the ground where we are going to be. This is an entirely different approach to broadcasting - social media - embracing a social media approach not just with 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," says George 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 tells TV with Thinus.

"It will be the first time that we will do a very different way of social media integration into a DStv channel," she says. "It won't be your standard strapline that sits at the bottom of the screen, its going to be completely integrated".

"From a content perspective it was really important for us to ensure that we make our coverage really balanced and responsible but most of all we have to understand that we are dealing with a human being in the sense of Oscar Pistorius, and somebody who died in terms of Reeva Steenkamp".

"We can't forget that. We have to be responsible around that. We are not there to character assassinate anyone or prejudicing anyone," says Aletta Alberts.


ALSO READ: Broadcast of the Oscar Pistorius murder trial on television is "a seminal moment in broadcast history," broadcast experts tells TV with Thinus.