3 Sep 2004

Cook Islands PM hits back at critics over radio station criticism

4:31 pm on 3 September 2004

The Cook Islands Prime Minister has hit back at suggestions his Government will use a taxpayer funded radio station to spread propaganda.

Dr Robert Woonton, says the Government has approved a thirty three thousand US dollar grant to set up a state-run station because the outer islands deserve radio contact.

The Opposition leader, Sir Geoffrey Henry, says he believes the station will serve as a Government propaganda machine.

But Dr Woonton says Sir Geoffrey approved the Government purchase of a sixty thousand US dollar radio transmitter when he was his Finance Minister.

He says suggestions the government will push its line on air are election-driven.

"If we are guilty of that then Sir Geoffrey, who approved along with me, the purchase of a standby transmitter, is propagandering."

Dr Woonton says the Pitt Media Group has monopolised the industry and failed to meet its obligations to broadcast outside of Rarotonga.

He says the outer islands need radio contact, particularly during the hurricane season.