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Carte Blanche experiment allows viewers to choose stories via Facebook

Johannesburg-based news and actuality show, Carte Blanche, has become one of the few TV programmes worldwide to combine social media and live television, effectively allowing its viewers to choose what they want to see on air.

Eight stories were featured on Carte Blanche’s Facebook page — and viewers were invited to choose four by Liking the inserts they wanted to see.

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“The story with the most Likes will go out first and the four with the least won’t go out at all,” said well-known anchor Derek Watts.

Viewers selected the following four stories: Cannabis & Schizophrenia (564 Likes), Forensics (549 Likes), Mercury Rising (521 Likes), and Mandela Photographers (404 Likes). The four stories with the lowest votes were automatically disqualified.

For the first time in South African television history, viewers were empowered to act as gatekeepers — effectively given the choice to determine what they got to watch. More than 60% of the fan base participated — pointing to the huge success of this campaign.

“I can tell you I have a few worried-looking editors in the control room. This is an experiment and it’s up to you to make it work,” said Watts at the start of the broadcast.

George Mazarakis, Executive Producer, while announcing Mercury Rising as the next story chosen by the audience added: “What is interesting to us is that the viewers are going for more serious stories when we’d given them several lighter options.”

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