Media in court bid to broadcast Oscar trial

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Oscar Pistorius murder trial is set ot start on Monday. File photo: Adrian de Kock

Johannesburg - Media houses will apply to the High Court in Pretoria on Wednesday to broadcast the murder trial of paralympian Oscar Pistorius.

The application has been brought by eNCA and will be joined by MultiChoice and Eyewitness News.

The media houses also want permission to audio stream and take still photographs during the trial.

The National Prosecuting Authority on Tuesday said it would not oppose the application.

“We are not opposing the application,” NPA spokesman Nathi Mncube said.

“It's obviously up to the presiding judge whether to grant the order or to come to a different conclusion.”

Although the NPA was not opposing the application it would put forward a number of conditions. Mncube would not say what these were.

“I'm afraid I can't disclose them at this stage. You will have to wait till tomorrow (Wednesday),” he said.

Pistorius is accused of killing his model girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in February last year. His trial is expected to be heard in the High Court in Pretoria from March 3 to 20.

Head of news at eNCA Patrick Conroy on Tuesday said the news channel wanted to broadcast the trial but with minimal disruptions to court proceedings.

“We realise this is a big thing for the court,” he said.

“But it's important to stress that we are not trying to cover every single aspect, and every single word... the court needs to understand what we are doing.”

He said a balance needed to be struck.

There needed to be a solution in the country between the media and the judiciary when it came to covering court cases.

Conroy said progress had been made in the past 10 years and the courts had been taking proposals from the media and increasingly allowed cases to be broadcast.

He said social networking site Twitter, a 21st century invention, allowed people to micro blog from court and yet a 20th century invention such as television was not allowed inside.

The media houses were also applying for an audio stream of the trial.

Conroy said even if it was not allowed to be televised at least an audio stream would better convey nuances that could not always be described in print.

It was not immediately clear if Pistorius's legal team would oppose the application.

A 24-hour TV channel dedicated to the upcoming murder trial will be launched shortly before the trial.

“The Oscar Pistorius Trial: A Carte Blanche Channel” is expected to launch on March 2 on DSTV, the day before the star athlete goes on trial.

A total of 107 witnesses are expected to testify for the State. Among them are Pistorius's sister Aimee, his uncle Arnold, former police investigator Hilton Botha, and residents of the Silver Woods Country Estate in Pretoria, where he lived.

Medical experts, a weather forecaster, paramedics, ballistic and forensic experts will be called. Pistorius's former girlfriends, Melissa Rom and Samantha Taylor, will also testify.

Sapa


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