FRENCH ARCHIPELAGOS FORCES TO GO SANS TV

By | August 15, 2001 | Feature

For one week (from August 1 to August 7) the inhabitants of the French archipelagos of the Marquises, the Tuamutu-Gambier and the Austral Islands had to For one week (from August 1 to August 7) the inhabitants of the French archipelagos of the Marquises, the Tuamutu-Gambier and the Austral Islands had to live without television. The remote areas in the Pacific Ocean use terrestrial TV fed by the Polysat satellite system that uses Intelsat capacity to feed two TV channels sent from France by RFO, the French pub- lic television operation for the over-seas territories. Local programming is added by the RFO affiliate in Papeete, Tahiti, to the RFO feed before a re-uplink to an Intelsat 702 C-band dig-ital transponder by the local telecom-munications public company OPT to serve the remaining parts of French Polynesia. The transponder also car-ries almost all the radio stations that are available on the islands.

Because of a dispute between the autonomic government of French Polynesia and the French authorities over who has to finance the Polysat system, OPT decided to cut the satel-lite transmission of all RFO radio and television services on August 1. Edouard Fritch, Polynesia’s vice-pres-ident gave RFO one month to sign a convention with the local authorities who estimate that Intelsat’s $1 mil-lion (E1.12m) per year bill should be partly paid by RFO and the French State. Fritch explained that the terri-tory’s demand was never taken seri-ously and that such negotiations were regularly postponed by RFO for sever-al years. Despite many protests from the archipelagos mayors and mem- bers of parliament warning that the lack of means of communication could be dangerous in case of tropical thunderstorm or other natural dis-ease, OPT refused to switch the uplink from Papeete back on. The French minister for overseas matters Christian Paul’s statement on “his worries on such an attempt to the public service and the access to infor-mation” neither unblocked the situa-tion. The crisis ended when RFO’s chair-man André-Michel Besse finally com-mitted himself to finance the satellite feed for the next two months, the time to gather the company’s board to state a definitive decision. . The remote areas in the Pacific Ocean use terrestrial TV fed by the Polysat satellite system that uses Intelsat capacity to feed two TV channels sent from France by RFO, the French pub-lic television operation for the over-seas territories. Local programming is added by the RFO affiliate in Papeete, Tahiti, to the RFO feed before a re-uplink to an Intelsat 702 C-band dig-ital transponder by the local telecom-munications public company OPT to serve the remaining parts of French Polynesia. The transponder also car-ries almost all the radio stations that are available on the islands. Because of a dispute between the autonomic government of French Polynesia and the French authorities over who has to finance the Polysat system, OPT decided to cut the satel-lite transmission of all RFO radio and television services on August 1. Edouard Fritch, Polynesia’s vice-pres-ident gave RFO one month to sign a convention with the local authorities who estimate that Intelsat’s $1 mil-lion (E1.12m) per year bill should be partly paid by RFO and the French State. Fritch explained that the terri-tory’s demand was never taken seri-ously and that such negotiations were regularly postponed by RFO for sever-al years. Despite many protests from the archipelagos mayors and mem-bers of parliament warning that the lack of means of communication could be dangerous in case of tropical thunderstorm or other natural dis-ease, OPT refused to switch the uplink from Papeete back on. The French minister for overseas matters Christian Paul’s statement on “his worries on such an attempt to the public service and the access to infor-mation” neither unblocked the situa- tion. The crisis ended when RFO’s chair-man André-Michel Besse finally com-mitted himself to finance the satellite feed for the next two months, the time to gather the company’s board to state a definitive decision.


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