"There once was a herdsman from Hotan, whose TV reception was rotten. Now powered by solar for nary a dollar, he'll never reach for the OFF button."
OK, that was lame, but providing free TVs to semi-nomadic herdsmen is anything but. The initiative sponsored by China's State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (SARFT) addresses the issue of access to broadcast programming in isolated areas of Hotan Prefecture (in red, below left) that lack electrical power.
Since September, technicians from SARFT have been delivering the TV sets and their associated electronics to the tribesmen; then instructing them on how to set up and operate their TVs.
A total of 2,730 solar-powered TVs now bring 51 channels of programming to some of China's most isolated areas, most of which are rugged and at altitudes above 11,480 ft (3,500 meters). Set-owners will be able to view 11 channels of ethnic programming tailored to their culture while also offering a window on a world few herdsmen realized even existed.
The TV sets are designed to operate under harsh conditions and are portable: folded down to the size of a suitcase, they can be brought to new pastures by herdsmen traveling by horseback. Upon arrival at their destination, set-owners merely need to aim the photovoltaic cells and satellite dish, and plug in the connecting cables.
The project in Hotan Prefecture is the second of its type, following on the success of a similar scheme in Szechuan Province that saw solar-powered TV sets distributed to farmers and herders at no charge. (via Radio86, Eastday and NewsLeaks)