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PAPEETE, French Polynesia (December 6, 1999 - PINA Nius Online)---RFO (Réseau France Outremer), the French overseas television network, officially launched a Regional Satellite Television (RST) network covering the Indian Ocean Friday, RFO-radio reports.

The Indian Ocean RST provides collaborative program contributions from television services in Réunion, Mauritius and Madagascar. Others from the Seychelles are to follow, the company said.

The program are being relayed through a new group of satellite channels called RFO-Sat.

"At this stage, the programs consist mainly of news," RFO President André-Michel Besse said in Paris.

The service is temporarily called "RFO-Sat-Indien." Its programs are provided by RFO's television station in La Réunion Island (Télé-Réunion), Mauritius's MBC and a small private channel from Madagascar.

"RST is a sort of a program free trade zone among television operations in the Southern hemisphere that wish to go beyond their frontiers to reach a larger audience, possibly their citizens residing overseas," Besse added.

The RST concept was introduced to the Pacific region last October during the Pacific Islands News Association’s annual convention, which took place in Suva, Fiji Islands.

Paris-based RFO Director for International Relations, New Caledonian Walles Kotra, explained then what he termed as a "strategic" project for RFO, with the key goal being to reverse the current North-South flow of world television programs.

Talks about a possible partnership in the project were initiated in Suva with Pacific Islands television services, including Fiji Television and Papua New Guinea's EmTV and were furthered last month during New Caledonia's Second University of Communication for Oceania, held in Noumea and Lifou Island.

Since he took office last January as Chairman of RFO, Besse has become a strong advocate of the satellite concept.

A Pacific RST could start operating as soon as the first half of 2000, he predicted. But such matters as copyright requirements and the language to be used remain to be resolved for the Pacific project.

A similar project, in the Caribbean islands states, is planned to start operating next June, Besse said. "RFO has already struck deals with television services in the region, including Cuba."

This bulletin was produced by the Pacific Islands News Association (PINA). Editor: Patrick Antoine Decloitre E-mail: padec@iname.com 

For more information, contact Nina Ratulele, PINA Administrator, at pina@is.com.fj 

Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) Damodar Centre, 1st Floor 46 Gordon Street Suva, Republic of the Fiji Islands Tel: (679) 303 623 Fax : (679) 303 943 Postal Address: PINA, Private Mail Bag, Suva, Fiji Islands Website: http://www.pinanius.org 

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