International broadcasters mark the death of Nelson Mandela

Mandela_crowdInternational broadcasters have moved swiftly to unveil special programming to mark the death of Nelson Mandela in the early hours of this morning.


South African public broadcaster the SABC said it has deployed special news teams at key points throughout country that it said will bring the story of how the country is coming to terms with the passing of the iconic leader.

The SABC will have live coverage of all events marking the occasion over the next two weeks.

MTV owner Viacom International Media Networks also announced a raft of Nelson Mandela tribute programming. It will show a version of Meeting Mandela on many of its international channels this week (December 10 and 11). The MTV-produced show was originally produced by MTV to celebrate Mandela’s life as he turned 85 and was hosted by Beyoncé.

There will also be insterstitial tributes and several online initiatives including ‘What Mandela Meant to Me’, a photo gallery of MTV viewers’ pictures. The BET channel, which is distributed in the US, UK and Africa, will have a news special Mandela: Freedom’s Father. Viacom took all advertising off its African channels for 24 hours after Mandela’s death.

A+E Networks has aired a commemorative two-hour version of Miracle Rising: South Africa across its History channel in the US and internationally. The doc was produced by Combined Artists and looks at the four years between Nelson Mandela’s release from prison in 1990 and South Africa’s first free and fair elections in April 1994.

Discovery is putting its hour-long doc The Making of Mandela (pictured, top) on its core Discovery channel in 224 international territories. The new doc tells Mandela’s life story with interviews with friends and associates. It debuted in the UK tonight (December 6) in an 8pm slot and then roll out internationally. Mandela-narrated excerpts from his book Long Walk to Freedom are interspersed through the hour-long doc, which was made by Endemol-owned Darlow Smithson.

Elsewhere, Canadian pubcaster the CBC had news and doc programming marking the life and death of the Nobel prize-winning South African civil rights and political leader. It aired Madiba: The Life and Times of Nelson Mandela in its 9pm Doc Zone strand on December 6. The pubcaster updated the existing doc, which has an interview with Mandela, with new interviews and footage.


CBC News also ran The Life and Times of Mandela, a two-hour documentary special about the leader, in a 7pm slot on Saturday, December 7.

Swedish pubcaster SVT will show an updated version of US-produced doc In Memory of Madiba (black and white picture), which includes interviews with Mandela’s friends, allies and opponents. It was originally made as a Frontline special for PBS in the US.

In Australia commercial broadcaster Nine Network had a special one-hour news bulletin in the aftermath of the news of Mandela’s death. This was followed by current affairs special Nelson Mandela: Warrior for Peace in which news correspondent Peter Stefanovic pays tribute in a film in which he visits Robben Island, where Mandela was incarcerated. Directly after that Nine scheduled Eastwood directed film Invictus in which Morgan Freeman gives a powerful performance as Nelson Mandela.

Also in Australia, pubcaster SBS aired Nelson Mandela: The Final Chapter, which was directed Clifford Bestall who also made Nelson The Long Walk of Nelson Mandela, and followed Mandela in his later years.

Many international broadcasters have already bought Mandela docs this year.

Network 10 in Australia, CCTV in China, TVB in Hong Kong, Brazil’s GloboSat, Singapore’s MediaCorp, TVI in Portugal, TV2 in Norway, TV4 in Sweden and Finland, TV2 in Denmark, RTL in the Netherlands all acquired Sky Vision’s Mandela: The Struggle is My Life (pictured below). It features archive footage from Sky News, plus interviews with Desmond Tutu and F.W. De Klerk.

Mandela the Struggle is My Life

Broadcasters including Polish pubcaster TVP have acquired Nelson Mandela – A Life for Freedom.


The main US networks had extensive news coverage but no factual specials in the immediate aftermath of Mandela’s death.