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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 97-12-10

Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Cyprus Mail at <http://www.cynews.com/>


Wednesday, December 10, 1997

CONTENTS

  • [01] LTV viewers to be charged extra for Alpha
  • [02] What the Alpha package plans to offer
  • [03] Price rise a touch unethical?
  • [04] Educational test 'no horse race'
  • [05] 'That's the beauty of democracy'
  • [06] Villagers urge church to allow girl home
  • [07] Dispute over sewage plant next to school
  • [08] Hash found in field after tip-off
  • [09] Praise for Islamic stance on Denktash regime
  • [10] Tourism helps economy rebound
  • [11] Cyta in $800-million satellite deal
  • [12] Markides decision expected today

  • [01] LTV viewers to be charged extra for Alpha

    By Charlie Charalambous

    LUMIERE subscribers can look forward to a second channel before Christmas. But the downside is, like it or not, it will cost them an extra 3.60 a month.

    The pay-TV station is promising a wider choice of film premieres and more sport with the introduction of a second subscription channel, Alpha, operating through the LTV decoder.

    As new arrivals Alpha are incorporated into the Lumiere package, current subscribers will be charged for the "improved service" automatically.

    Lumiere, which boasts 30,000 subscribers, has decided not to allow viewers the right to choose whether they want the new channel or not, and will increase the fee as a matter of course.

    Service provider MultiChoice said Lumiere subscribers have demanded a second channel and now they will be able to enjoy a wider selection at a minimal cost.

    "We decided to provide LTV and Alpha as a package to offer more flexibility in programming and to improve quality and quantity," MultiChoice general manager Yiangos Constantinides told the Cyprus Mail yesterday.

    He said the decision to include Alpha as part of a package was based on it being the most cost-effective option compared to offering two separate channels.

    "We are offering more flexibility by allowing programmes to be moved from LTV to Alpha. We are not blackmailing people into subscribing because offering two different channels would have been more expensive," said Constantinides.

    Constantinides said the price hike had been kept as low as possible and stressed there would be no further increase to subscribers until the year 2000.

    "We believe the subscribers can afford it, it's only the price of a coffee a day," he said. The increase is not that much and subscribers were asking for a second channel which has been in constant demand."

    As a sweetener Lumiere will offer the Alpha channel free of charge until the end of January.

    The 3.60 increase will take effect from February 1, 1998 - when LTV hopes viewers will gladly pay the extra charge.

    Although nobody is saying what Alpha's share of the subscription fee will be, it is understood the new station will not be out of pocket.

    [02] What the Alpha package plans to offer

    ALPHA TV is expected to be up and running by December 20, but it will only cover a limited area for the first few weeks.

    A test card for tuning purposes should be available to Lumiere viewers very soon, but Alpha will only be available to Nicosia subscribers when it starts transmitting.

    It will take around three weeks from the first day of transmission before the Alpha signal is receivable islandwide.

    Lumiere subscribers will also receive written confirmation about the planned changes and how to tune into the second channel.

    Advice on how to tune in to Alpha will be given by Lumiere customer services and technicians will be on hand to help those who have difficulty, LTV says.

    The Alpha-Lumiere package is offering more live sports coverage such as German, Spanish and Italian football plus exclusive NBA games among other features.

    The joint service also offers double the current number of movie premieres each week (up to 14), non-violent children's programming and the European Business Network.

    Apart from wider sports coverage the improved movie deal will include more European films rather than Hollywood fodder.

    Alpha will also transmit in the 'open zone' (making it available to non- subscribers) between 7pm-10pm, during which time news programmes in Greek are planned.

    [03] Price rise a touch unethical?

    SEVERAL Lumiere subscribers approached by the Cyprus Mail yesterday thought the automatic price hike a touch unethical, and questioned whether they would be getting value for money.

    Subscribers were put out about being kept in the dark and believed their freedom of choice had been taken away.

    "It's blackmail. Who are they to decide for us what we want to watch?" asked Marios Christou.

    "The only way to protest is for lots of people to boycott them. This will hurt them financially," he added.

    Eve Patrick said she would pay the 3.60 increase for improved programming, but not a penny more.

    She too was unimpressed that subscribers had not been consulted on the changes and were then expected to pay for it.

    "In principle it's ethically unsound," she said.

    Demetris Demetriou said he was "disgusted" that consumers were being made to pay for something they hadn't agreed to.

    "They should have asked, and then given us the choice," he said.

    But Demetriou did welcome the fact that Alpha would be screened free of charge for the first month.

    "I will wait and see what it is like for the first month and if I don't like it I will stop it."

    Other subscribers, who did not want to be quoted, said they would only pay the increase if it reflected a marked improvement in quality and a wider choice in real terms.

    [04] Educational test 'no horse race'

    By Jean Christou

    A GLOBAL maths and science test in which Cypriot pupils came nearly last was not an "international horse race", the Education Ministry said yesterday.

    In a lengthy announcement issued in response to the results of the third part of the test, which were published on Monday, the ministry lists all the reasons why Cypriot students did so badly.

    These include their age, the criteria used, and the number of countries which took part.

    The ministry said despite the fact the global tests were carried out in 45 countries in parts one and two, not as many countries participated in this section.

    But Cypriot students also came near to last in the other two parts.

    In the third section results were obtained from 12 different practical tests.

    The Cypriot students, primary and secondary, came second from bottom. In all, 900 pupils were tested, 450 in 50 secondary schools and the same number in primary education.

    Other countries ahead of Cyprus included Romania, the Czech Republic, Slovenia, Portugal and Iran.

    But the Ministry claimed yesterday the way in which the results were presented by the Cyprus University were superficial and misleading.

    It said the presentation made it look as if Cyprus was second last out of 45 countries where in fact in one part only 12 countries had fulfilled the criteria to participate and the other only five.

    In both cases the Cypriot students still came second last.

    "The way results were given in Cyprus are not convincing and do not come to grips with essence of the test," the ministry said.

    "If the results are examined superficially there is the danger of being led to the wrong conclusions."

    It said the survey was not designed to compare countries, sort them into groups, or to form the basis for an international competition.

    Quoting William Schmidt, co-ordinator of the survey carried out by the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA), the ministry said it was not an "international horse race".

    "Such a classification would only hold weight if all the countries taking part offered their students the same opportunities to learn about what was being examined, by choosing the students in the same way with the same selection criteria, and by having the same number of children from each country take the test," the ministry said.

    The average age of the students was also a factor, it claimed.

    It said Cypriot schoolchildren are younger by almost a year compared to other countries.

    The average age of Cypriot elementary pupils is 9.8 years compared to 10- 10.9 in other countries, while Gymnasium students in Cyprus have an average age of 13.8 compared to other countries - 14.2 in the US, 14.5 in Singapore, 14.6 in Portugal, Romania and Iran, and 14.7 in Slovenia.

    "Everyone recognises the greater significance created by age and maturity in the performance of students," the announcement said.

    It said the aim of the survey was to find out those factors which influenced the performance of the students.

    The ministry said it will study the results "very seriously" without discrediting the survey "but also without giving it more significance than it deserves in certain areas".

    "The ministry will come to its own conclusions, bearing in mind the good of the children. It must not be forgotten that the ministry took part in the survey on its own initiative and at a financial cost to itself

    [05] 'That's the beauty of democracy'

    By Bouli Hadjioannou

    PRESIDENT Clerides will not enter into confrontation with rival candidates, but will focus instead on presenting his programme, spokesman Manolis Christofides said yesterday.

    Christofides, who was fending off a barrage of questions on the elections, would not comment on statements by Disy deputy Demetris Syllouris that Diko may decide to back independent candidate George Iacovou in the elections.

    "I will not comment on the views of an individual or of isolated people. What Mr Syllouris said does not fall in the context of the government's work but should be discussed in other fora," he said. Earlier yesterday Disy chairman Nicos Aanstassiades blasted Syllouris for his statements.

    The spokesman also reiterated that the president did not want confrontation with other candidates, but would instead present his programme and the achievements of his government. "Those will be his weapons in the elections campaign."

    He was asked whether this meant the president was not concerned that his previous ally Diko could back Iacovou. "We live in a multi-party democracy... each will make its choice. We do not want to intervene in the internal affairs of political parties. That is the beauty of democracy. There will be an electoral battle with a number of candidates and the people will be given the chance to listen, to choose and to vote," Christofides said.

    The spokesman chose his words carefully when asked about Diko's decision to back Attorney-general Alecos Markides for president and whether Markides, if he does decide to run, should be expected to step down.

    "We forget one detail: Mr Markides is not a candidate, he is not a member of a party. He is the premier independent official of the republic," he said.

    And he said officials such as the attorney-general and the president of the Supreme Court had a special duty to ensure their actions safeguard the integrity of their posts.

    Pressed on the issue of the attorney-general, Christofides reiterated that the position of attorney-general was of paramount importance and had to be defended.

    Did this mean the attorney-general could take leave from his post and contest the elections?

    "Mr Markides has the age, the rich education, the experience and the dedication to democratic principles. He will determine his own behaviour."

    But Christofides would not say what the president would expect from Markides is such an eventuality. "These are all future, possible developments. We will wait and see."

    Asked whether a meeting was planned between the two men, the spokesman said he was not aware either of the two had asked to meet to discuss the issue of the elections.

    [06] Villagers urge church to allow girl home

    AUTHORITIES in the home village of would-be nun Nectaria Tryphonos have appealed to the Church to allow her a brief visit home, it was reported yesterday.

    According to Phileleftheros newspaper, village and District authorities of Letymvou in the Paphos district have written to church elders, asking them to allow priest's daughter Nectaria, 23, home for a visit.

    So far attempts by her father, parish priest Papakyriakos Tryphonos, to secure her release so she may reconsider her decision have been blocked by the Abbess of Ayios Iraklidion convent.

    The letter pointed out that if Nectaria had taken holy orders of her own free will, such a visit should pose no problems.

    Papakyriakos wants his daughter to come home to visit her sick mother and think the matter through again. However, during a recent visit, Nectaria said she had been told at the convent that leaving would merit divine punishment.

    [07] Dispute over sewage plant next to school

    By Bouli Hadjioanou

    LARNACA local authorities yesterday defended a decision to site a sewage sub-station next to a primary school, but parents were not convinced.

    The issue was discussed on site during a visit by the House Education Committee which toured the Larnaca area. It was first raised in committee by Larnaca deputies Nicos Kleanthous of Diko and Thassos Michaelides of Akel.

    Kleanthous said it was high time the matter was resolved in a way which would guard against possible problems, particularly concern about the health of children attending

    Kalogera primary school.

    According to the Kleanthous the sewage sub-station will be built on land just three metres away from a school classroom.

    But Larnaca Mayor George Lycourgos said an environmental impact study carried out by the World Bank had shown the station would not be a nuisance.

    Lycourgos added that similar sub-stations were already in operation in the town, and that parents had been briefed about how they work.

    But an official from the technical services department of the Education Ministry said that residents had complained that a sub-station near the Ayios Lazaros technical school was responsible for a foul smell during the summer months.

    And he said there were alternative sites to Kalogera but that the Larnaca Sewage Board had not looked into the possibility of relocating it because it would have cost 30,000 to 40,000.

    The headmistress and parents said they objected to the project, while Constantinos Tziarris, head of the Larnaca School Council, also expressed reservations, saying there could be no guarantees there would not be problems in the future.

    The Education Committee was also briefed on the town's school needs. A new lyceum - the fourth, should be in operation by September, but Larnaca now needs a fifth lyceum, deputies were told.

    School space is so limited that pupils preferred to remain in the classroom because there was no room outside. And two older listed buildings were not being renovated as they should.

    Later deputies travelled to Athienou where officials from the school council there called for extensions to the gymnasium.

    [08] Hash found in field after tip-off

    POLICE have uncovered six slabs of hash weighing a total of three quarters of a kilo in an open field in the Athalassa area, they announced yesterday.

    Acting on a tip-off, anti-drug squad officers went to an area between Athalassa and Yeri late on Monday where underneath an old fallen sign they discovered the hash haul wrapped in plastic. The sign read 'No Rubbish'.

    Officers remained at the scene and left the drugs in place in the hope that the owners might show up. After an all-night stake-out, however, they called off the operation and took the drugs back to headquarters for examination.

    [09] Praise for Islamic stance on Denktash regime

    By Jean Christou

    THE GOVERNMENT yesterday credited Islamic countries for not recognising the breakaway Turkish Cypriot regime in the north.

    Government Spokesman Manolis Christofides was commenting on statements by Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash on his departure on Monday for the Islamic Conference in Tehran.

    Denktash reproached the Islamic world for "neglecting" the Turkish Cypriots, and said he expected Islamic countries to support the 'TRNC' in "its just struggle".

    No Islamic country except Turkey recognises the self-declared 'TRNC'.

    "We are satisfied that there remains a steady respect among these countries for UN resolutions so they do not recognise the pseudo-state," the government spokesman said.

    Denktash said the Islamic world has become caught up in its own problems and forgotten the Turkish Cypriots as a result.

    "They think we are happy because Turkey protects us," he said.

    Denktash said the Turkish Cypriot fight with the Greek Cypriots has not ended, adding that what the Greek Cypriots and Greece had failed to do before - annex Cyprus with Greece - they were now trying to do via the European Union.

    "We are at a critical crossroads," Denktash said. "I hope the Islamic world understands this and says a few words to the Greek Cypriot side which it has been supporting fully so far.

    "I hope it shows enough courage to tell them what the Italian Foreign Minister did: that they were not and could never be the Turkish Cypriots' representatives and they could not join the EU without Turkey's approval."

    [10] Tourism helps economy rebound

    By Hamza Hendawi

    A HEALTHY performance by the tourism and services sectors has helped the economy maintain a steady pace of recovery since May, Finance Minister Christodoulos Christodoulou said yesterday.

    The economy is now expected to end the year with a 2.5 per cent growth in Gross Domestic Product, he said.

    "The revival of the economy which started in May this year is steadily continuing with its main driving force being tourism, offshore and other services sectors," the minister told reporters after a meeting with senior officials devoted to reviewing the island's economy.

    Christodoulou said the first six months of the year saw GDP growing at a miserable 1 per cent, but it picked up pace in the second half to register an impressive 4 per cent.

    Christodoulou has held his post since President Glafcos Clerides' government took office nearly five years ago, and his assertions that the economy has bounced back from the slump of 1996 and early 1997 are seen as likely to help Clerides' campaign for re-election in the presidential polls scheduled for February.

    Replying to a question on the economy becoming an election issue, the Finance Minister - a close aide of Clerides - said: "The economic and social policies of a government at the end of a five-year term often come under criticism.

    "I don't think it can be avoided, but it should not be exaggerated."

    GDP registered a modest growth of 1.9 per cent in 1996, the partial result of a severe drought and tension on the Green Line which undermined investors' confidence and hit tourism, one of the island's main sources of income and one which accounts for nearly 20 per cent of GDP.

    The previous year, 1995, witnessed GDP growth of 6.0 per cent with an all- time record of 2.2 million tourists visiting the island.

    Christodoulou said prospects for 1998 look encouraging.

    "The rate of growth is expected to reach 4.5 per cent in real terms and an improvement is foreseen for other macroeconomic indicators of the economy."

    The number of tourists rose 8 per cent year-on-year for the May-October period of this year, he said.

    Turning to other indicators, Christodoulou said unemployment was forecast to reach 3.3 per cent and inflation 3.5 per cent in 1997. This compares to 3.1 per cent and 3.0 per cent in 1996 respectively, according to official figures.

    He blamed what he called "temporary" factors for the rise in inflation, together with a lingering drought which had an impact on prices of farm products.

    The devaluation of the Cyprus pound against the dollar and higher oil prices on world markets last year and early in 1997 contributed to a hike in electricity costs.

    Foreign exchange reserves, he said, are set to grow to 2.8 billion Cyprus pounds in 1997, enough for 14 months of imports, from a forecast 2.25 billion in 1996.

    [11] Cyta in $800-million satellite deal

    By Hamza Hendawi

    DIGIMED, a fully-owned unit of the Cyprus Telecommunications Authority, has signed an agreement with Matra Marconi Space to create the Euro-African Satellite Telecommunication (E.A.S.T.) Limited Company, Cyta Chairman Michalakis Zivanaris said yesterday.

    For a total cost of $800 million, E.A.S.T. will provide mobile and fixed telephone and data services to Europe, Africa and the Middle East, Zivanaris told the Cyprus Mail in a telephone interview.

    E.A.S.T.'s board of directors met in Paris yesterday for the first time and decided to commission a feasibility study that will be ready at the end of June, he said.

    "We are very enthusiastic about the project. It looks good and it looks viable," said Zivanaris, who spoke to the Mail from London.

    "We need to know the cost of the satellite and all the other things and we employed the best consultants in the world to carry out the feasibility study," said Zivanaris, who became the deputy chairman of the new company.

    "We have been looking at this project for the past 12 months," he said.

    A statement issued in Paris yesterday said E.A.S.T. would seek agreements with investors and financial institutions to complete the financing of the project. It will also negotiate and finalise a turnkey contract for the in- orbit delivery of the satellite together with the associated ground systems.

    An industrial team led by Matra Marconi Space, including Nera of Norway and Sweden's Ericsson, will implement the system for full service deployment scheduled for 2001. Matra Hautes Technologies, a unit of France's Lagardere Group, will also be a member of the industrial team.

    Matra Marconi Space is a joint venture company formed by France's Lagardere and Britain's GEC Plc. The Cyprus-based Digimed is Cyta's arm for foreign operations.

    State-owned Cyta is widely viewed as the jewel of Cyprus's lucrative, 300- million services industry. Last year, it made a pre-tax profit of 32 million and expects to make more this year. News of the latest project will further enhance its image as a well-run enterprise.

    Cyta, according to Zivanaris, will contribute $120 million to E.A.S.T., or 15 per cent of the cost of the programme.

    "It is not the amount which is of concern here, for it is certainly within the boundaries of what Cyta can afford, but it is whether the project is viable,"

    said the Cyta chairman and chief executive officer.

    "We are a profit-making and a well-organised company and there is no need to privatise us," said Zivanaris when asked to comment on repeated calls for Cyta to be sold off to the public.

    It is a political decision, he said, adding: "What we do need is not privatisation but the liberalisation of the telecommunications sector so we can compete against others."

    [12] Markides decision expected today

    By Charlie Charalambous

    ATTORNEY-general Alecos Markides is expected to announce today whether he will run for president in the 1998 elections.

    Markides told reporters yesterday that he had already made his decision and would make it public "very soon".

    Disy's political office said it was confident Markides had decided not to run.

    But Diko deputies, who met Markides yesterday to discuss his possible candidacy, said they still didn't know whether or not he would stand for president.

    Disy's political office met yesterday evening to discuss Diko's proposal to back Markides, if he runs, at the expense of President Clerides.

    The proposal was rejected unanimously and the office repeated its endorsement of Clerides's candidacy.

    Disy president Nicos Anastassiades has had to struggle to keep his party together as some in the higher echelons have gone against the pro-Clerides line and voiced support for Markides.

    Disy deputy Demetris Syllouris made public a written letter to his party boss which said Disy had wrongly helped in dissolving the coalition government.

    He also argued that if Disy supported Markides and Clerides stepped down, the attorney-general would win in the first round.

    Anastassiades described the letter as "strictly personal" and said he would respond in writing.

    But another supposed Markides supporter, Disy deputy Christos Pourgourides, called on the attorney-general to withdraw from the presidential fray for the good of the party.

    Pourgourides argued that if Markides, a co-founder of Disy, entered the election, it would "lead to the break-up of Disy and this should be avoided in any way possible."

    Political observers believe Markides has been troubled by the ferocity of the in-fighting within Disy and could decide not to run in order to avoid a permanent split within his party.

    Unsure about which way Markides will go, Diko stalwarts were in consultation late yesterday with their boss Spyros Kyprianou to consider alternative options.

    Until late last night Diko general-secretary Stathis Kittis was in discussion with Markides, at the attorney-general's residence, to review the current situation.

    Afterwards Kittis would not say whether Markides had told him what he had decided to do.

    Kyprianou was reportedly in phone contact with Akel chief Demetris Christofias to discuss an alternative election strategy should Markides decide not to run. Christofias denied having talks with the Diko leader.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 1997

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