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ALOFI, Niue (Niue News, May 29) - No TV One News, no Shortland Street soapies and no live rugby! It's tough going for avid TV watchers on Niue used to a good all-round mix of nightly programs.

The Broadcasting Corporation of Niue, which controls the island's radio and TV services, lost its main antennae, mast and satellite dish during the January hurricane-force winds and it's been a challenge to try and replace the expensive equipment.

Niueans have been a bit scratchy at the menu of repeats dished up nightly on their screens.

Commented BCN general manager Patrick Lino, "A lot of people are showing withdrawal symptoms."

The top rated TV One news ( minus advertisements) and the fast moving drama Shortland Street (starring Niuean Stephanie Tauevihi) were favorite programs on the island as were the Super 12 rugby games beamed in live. But TVNZ has dropped its Pacific service to Niue, the Cooks and Samoa because its biggest player, Fiji TV, pulled out of the system preferring to purchase the rights and re-sell them to its neighbors.

"Some of the programs we previously bought from TVNZ at a good fee are now too expensive for us to buy but we are negotiating with Fiji TV to try and get a more reasonable deal," said Mr Lino.

Meanwhile, the Peoples Republic of China is to erect a 76-meter, free-standing mast for TV transmission and $144,000 from a Cook Islands Relief Fund is paying for a 40-meter tower and a new 7.5 meshed satellite dish which will hopefully arrive from the U.S. in August, said Mr Lino.

Then it will be services as normal.

The Australia Broadcasting Corporation TV Pacific service will be ressurected, the rugby tests will be live and with a bit of luck Shortland Street will be back in the living rooms of the nation.

And the reward for having to endure the re-runs of the re-runs and vintage tapes of Super 12 rounds? The BCN has waived the $65 a quarter license fee.

For the time being.

May 31, 2004

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