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New Zealand buys TV rights to first millennium dawn.

SYDNEY, Aug. 20 Kyodo

The New Zealand government has bought the television rights to the very first dawn of the new millennium expected to arrive at the remote Chatham Islands for 200,000 N.Z. dollars (106,000 U.S. dollars), officials said Friday.

In announcing the deal, the New Zealand Millennium Office said the broadcast would be viewed by billions of people around the globe.

Although Pacific nations are arguing over which will be first to greet the year 2000, London's Royal Geographical Society has said the first rays of light on inhabited land will hit Mt. Hapeka on New Zealand's remote Pitt Island at 5 a.m. local time.

Pitt is the second largest of the Chatham Islands group, which lies 800 kilometers east of New Zealand's capital, Wellington.

The money from the deal will be paid into a charitable trust fund for the benefit of Pitt Island's 55 inhabitants.

The Millennium Office said the broadcasting rights for the event would go to New Zealand's TV3 network, which would then provide the footage to the 2000 Today Millennium Day Broadcast produced by the British Broadcasting Corp., expected to be viewed by up to 1 billion people.

The pictures would also be made available to any other international television network in the world through the Associated Press Television News agency, the office said.

Pitt Island farmer Ruka Lanauze, a member of the family that owns land on Mt. Hapeka, said the government was "very lucky" to make the deal, New Zealand Press Association (NZPA) reported Friday.

"They're pretty lucky we are patriotic sort of people," he was quoted as saying.

Lanauze said the island's landowners plan to negotiate further deals for still photography and Internet rights to the first light.

The islanders' trust fund will be named the Bevan Lanauze Memorial Charitable Trust, after Ruka's brother, who died in a fishing accident, NZPA reported. The money may be used to build a wharf for the island, it said.

Unfortunately for viewers though, Pitt Island's notoriously bad weather means the millennium's first sunrise is likely to be shrouded in mist.
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Publication:Asian Economic News
Date:Aug 23, 1999
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