Subject: LUSA: Radio and TV Help Inform Voters in Remote Areas

19 Jun 01 21:15 East Timor: Radio and TV Help Inform Voters in Remote Areas

Small solar-powered radios that enable citizens to tune in to Radio UNTAET are being used to inform residents in the more remote regions of East Timor's Covalima region (southwest) about the upcoming August elections and the transition to independence.

The radios have likewise been distributed among some of the more than 20,000 East Timorese refugees across the border in the Belu district of Indonesia, enabling them to receive information on the situation in East Timor, independent of whether or not they have decided to return to their homeland.

In a note sent to Lusa Tuesday, the district administration of Covalima (capital Suai) indicates that 435 radios have been distributed by community leaders among the region's 48,000 residents, with the support of the Jesuit Relief Service (JRS).

"The impact is visible throughout the district. The participants in public meetings are better informed and regularly refer to information they have heard" on the radio run by the territory's UN transition administration (UNTAET), the text states.

The success of the initiative has led the district administration to request that Dili send more solar radios, particularly needed in the lead-up to the Aug. 30 elections of members of a constituent assembly, who will be charged with drawing up the future national constitution.

While radios are on sale in Suai, the city's power supply is limited to six hours a day and the price of batteries is too high for most residents.

The note sent to Lusa Indicates that Radio UNTAET reaches 85 percent of Covalima and covers a large part of the Belu district in Indonesian West Timor.

The district has also registered an increase in the number of programs on East Timor's TVTL television network that reach remote areas. Residents are said to be particularly interested in local news, a highlight of which has been the recent renovation of the Suai market.

JBC -Lusa-

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