By LIEZL THOM
PRETORIA, South Africa -The murder trial of Oscar Pistorius, one of South Africa's biggest celebrities, has so riveted the country that a "pop up" TV channel dedicated to the trial was created - and it expects to see a massive spike when the Blade Runner takes the stand to testify.
Pistorius, 27, is accused of murdering his model girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, 29, before dawn on Valentine's Day 2013. Pistorius, a sprinter who competed in the Olympics running on prosthetics, claimed he mistook her for an intruder.
The trial, the first televised court case in South Africa, has seen large audiences riveted to their TV screens and the Oscar Pistorius Trial Channel has dominated ratings in the first two weeks of the trial. Although numbers slumped slightly in the third and fourth week, the channel remains South Africans' broadcaster of choice for all things Pistorius.
The trial has been adjourned this week, but Pistorius' legal team begins his defense next week when the legless sprinter is expected to take the stand and the Oscar Pistorius Trial Channe's audience is expected to boom.
Viewers have tweeted their fascination with the trial the Oscar Pistorius Trial Channel.
|siyaCT I am so addicted to the Oscar trial. I switch between channel 199 & 403. I have even given up my favourite programme #Dinner Date… 2014/03/27, 11:52 AM|
|Terxandra Would be interesting to know how many people have channel 199 on & will remain glued to it today. 2014/03/28, 8:57 AM|
|MollySeima When is OP taking the stand ? #oscartrial199 #OscarPisorius #twoogle I need to be glued to channel 199 when he does. 2014/03/28, 8:18 AM|
|toshpolela After Oscar, Carte Blanche should consider keeping channel 199 as a court channel. There are enough cases to feed our curiosity 2014/03/11, 4:13 PM|
The so-called "pop-up" channel has been closed this week during the trial's adjournment, but will resume Monday when the defense begins presenting its case.
It remains unclear when Pistorius will be called to the stand to tell the world his version of events. Legal precedent in South Africa dictates that the accused is the first witness the defense calls if the defendant is going to testify. Pistorius' lawyers have indicated though that they will not call the Blade Runner first. It is expected that private pathologist, Professor Jan Botha, will be the first defense witness but Pistorius' lawyer Brian Weber says this is not a foregone conclusion.
The Pistorius channel costs $65 a month and is owned by Combined Artists Productions, the producers of Carte Blanche, a magazine and actuality program.
The executive producer of the Oscar Pistorius Trial Channel, George Mazarakis, says Pistorius' rise to international fame, which culminated in the 2012 Olympic Games when he became the first Paralympic athlete to compete against his able bodied peers, has captured the world's imagination and the interest in the events of Valentine's Day 2013 is a natural extension of that interest.