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New Caledonia private TV to broadcast news in Kanak languages

media rance's President Francois Hollande (L) talks to lFormer French president Francois Hollande talking to ocal residents following a wreath-laying ceremony at the Memorial Bir Hakeim square in Noumea on November 17, 2014. AFP PHOTO / FRED PAYET

For the first time ever, local television station Caledonia TV, in the French south Pacific department of New Caledonia, will broadcast the news in Kanak, the language of the islands, to “ break the taboo” around these languages that have been largely marginalized until now.

The editorial director of the channel, Jérémie Gandin, told the French news agency AFP that there is a real demand by people on the island to have the news broadcast in Kanak.

New Caledonia is a special collectivity of France located in the southwest Pacific Ocean, 1,210 km (750 mi) east of Australia

Launched in 2013, Caledonia TV has already broadcast reports on local affairs in Kanak. However, as a result of a partnership with the Academy for Kanak languages, the news on Caledonia TV will be broadcast in four different local languages Tuesday.

There are about 30 Kanak languages spoken across the New Caledonia. The four languages that will  be used are the most widely spoken of the Kanak languages.

The Kanak Language Academy (Académie des Langues Kanak; KLA) is a local, public educational establishment in New Caledonia. Founded in 2007, with roots reaching to the Nouméa Accords of 1998, the legislative assembly endorsed the setting up of the French territory's first indigenous Kanak languages institute.

The program that will be broadcast tomorrow will be on a trial basis and will be followed by a debate over whether it should become a permanent feature.

Until 1980 it was forbidden to broadcast or publish documents without the help of an official translator.

 There are two local television stations on the archipelago. The first is the public service Nouvelle-Caledonia 1ère, the other is the privately owned Caledonia TV.

New Caledonia is currently preparing for a referendum on its relationship with France that is due to take place next year and which, if pasted could end the a 160 year relationship with France

The wording of the referendum question to be asked has not been determined, and neither has the eligible electorate.

The pledge of an independence referendum was given by France 30 years ago in the 1988 Matignon Accord after dozens mainly Kanaks died in political violence over independence.

The Accord also aimed to level out the inequalities resulting from what has now been 160 years of colonisation.

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