Remote Cook Islands Atoll Gets New TV Service

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Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i

Palmerston residents excited by new Bluesky transmitter

By Sharna Matapuku

RAROTONGA, Cook Islands (Cook Islands News, Feb. 25, 2016) – On an atoll 500 kilometres away from the Cooks capital are 63 highly excited Palmerston residents eager to get home to watch their new television sets to catch up on the daily local news.

As eventful as the arrival of a local TV service has been, the residents of Palmerston Island have nothing but praise for Bluesky and their new television transmitter which gives them the ability to watch local television from the comfort of their own homes.

At 5pm on Monday, February 15, Palmerston Island mayor Bob Marsters officially opened the Palmerston Island Community TV Service.

Now feeling a little closer to the country’s capital, Palmerston’s residents are excited that they can keep up with the local news by watching programmes supplied by CITV which include the popular TVNZ’s One News programme.

Palmerston Island Administration executive officer Arthur Neale told CI News that so far he has received nothing but positive reports. And he says everyone is delighted with the new service.

"The young people are using their mobile phones with antennas to pick up the TV transmissions to watch the news, movies and other CITV programmes. However, the older folks are more interested in the local and international news coverage.

"This is the first time local TV has been transmitted to homes. We also have a Sky Pacific dish but everyone always had to go to the Telecom station to watch it on one TV screen," says Neale.

Thanks to the new service, residents can now enjoy both local CITV and Sky Pacific programmes on their own TVs.

Neale says that the island is grateful to the Bluesky technicians who worked their magic on the installation, and for the technicians who travelled from neighbouring islands, father and son team Rima and Eric Herman and members of the Palmerston Island community.

The week-long project was long and arduous as it required all hands on deck to assemble, fit and erect the antenna poles and transmitters around the island.

Due to dense foliage spots around the island, the transmitters are unable to provide a strong signal to all parts of the island.

However, Neale says that this is something the island council may need to look into, and hopefully alternative options will be found to relay the signal to provide the island with full coverage.

To conclude the installation, a blessing was conducted by Reverend Ina Moetaua of the island’s CICC church, followed by a farewell kaikai for the two visiting teams from Bluesky and the Ministry of Health, who set sail for Rarotonga on the "Lady Moana" this week.

Marsters, Neale and the residents of Palmerston Island thank Bluesky and MP for Palmerston Island Albert Nicholas and his office for their assistance in making it all possible.

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