SATELLITE TELEVISION ARRIVES IN COOK ISLANDS

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AVARUA, Rarotonga, Cook Islands (September 12, 2002 - Cook Islands News/PINA Nius Online)---Movies, cartoons and a 24-hour live news service are expected to be beaming -- legally -- into Cook Islands home TV sets tonight.

It marks the beginning of cooperation between French Polynesia and Telecom Cook Islands (TCI) on a new pay television service delivered via satellite.

Initially, four television channels will be aired -- CNN, Turner Classic Movies and a cartoon network. The fourth channel is the free to air French/Tahitian service provided by Tahiti Nui TV's satellite service.

Two more channels are expected to become available soon -- Eurosports (French with English subtitles) and M6, a music channel.

A full start-up kit, which includes equipment and installation costs, will cost viewers NZ$ 1,600 (US$ 755.41).

While Rarotonga residents are able to purchase their own systems, each outer island will be given a system at a "subsidized rate."

Two systems have already been installed, on the islands of Mitiaro and Mangaia.

Cook Islands Telecommunications Minister Norman George said the project is one that Telecom Cook Islands and the government have been promising to deliver.

He said he was "very happy to make the announcement that the equipment is here now with TCI."

The Cook Islands already has a free-to-air television service, Cook Islands Television, operated on Rarotonga by Elijah Communications.

According to Telecom Cook Islands chief executive Stuart Davies the new service had initially been aimed at providing a television service for the outer islands.

The service, Marama Satellite Television, has taken almost two years from "the time we said yes we will do it, to signing the final contract," said Davies.

During discussions before a mayors' forum yesterday morning, Davies encouraged outer islands participants to form local program committees.

These should be made up of college principals, a police officer, a member of the Religious Advisory Council, a local government rep and a youth representative, he suggested.

George said, "We want a good balance of people to decide the programming" for the outer islands.

For additional reports from the Cook Islands News Online, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/Cook Islands News Online.

Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) Website: http://www.pinanius.org 

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