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NZ Announced Host Country for Eco-Challenge 2001

December 12, 2000

New Zealand Announced as Host Country for Eco-Challenge 2001

- The World’s Premier Expedition Race Heads to Land that Pioneered Multi-sport Competition -

In a combined announcement in Los Angeles, Wellington and New York City, Mark Burnett, founder and Executive Producer of Eco-Challenge; Jim Anderton, New Zealand’s Deputy Prime Minister and Gordon Beck, SVP Sports and Production at USA Network stated today that Eco-Challenge 2001 would take place in New Zealand, the country that pioneered multi-sport competitions over a decade ago.

Seventy-five, four-person, international teams will converge on New Zealand’s South Island in October, 2001. They will traverse 400 kilometers of New Zealand’s breathtaking terrain using only non-motorized forms of transportation such as mountaineering, horseback riding, mountain biking, kayaking, fixed ropes and pack rafting.

Known for it’s rugged Southern Alps, the South Island is home to the most winning team in Eco-Challenge history as well as the most experienced group of adventure athletes anywhere. Kiwis have dominated multi-sport competitions worldwide and many make outdoor adventuring part of their everyday lifestyle.

Eco-Challenge is the world’s premier Expedition Race™, attracting the best expedition athletes from around the world. Each year it is held in a different remote region of the world. Previous Eco-Challenge races have taken place in Utah, New England, British Columbia, Australia, Morocco, Argentina, and Malaysian Borneo. New Zealand will mark the 8th annual global competition.

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“We’ve been looking at New Zealand as a potential site since 1998. This October, an Eco-Challenge survey team scouted the area and were extremely impressed by the diversity of the terrain and the support of government, the tourism industry and private sector,” Mark Burnett, Founder and Executive Producer of Eco-Challenge, stated. “We are excited that New Zealand will be our host for the 2001 event as it is truly a mecca of adventure.”

The Eco-Challenge is being supported by Industry New Zealand with assistance from Tourism New Zealand. Tourism New Zealand Chief Executive George Hickton said the organization welcomed the opportunity to profile New Zealand in the US, which is one of New Zealand’s key tourism markets.

Gordon Beck, SVP Sports and Production of USA Network stated, “New Zealand provides a perfect environment for the ultimate challenge to competitors from around the world. As in each Eco-Challenge, the terrain becomes a key character in the drama of team dynamics and individual self-discovery that USA Network explores in its coverage. For seasoned adventure racers and novices alike, New Zealand’s dramatic and expansive terrain will test their abilities to push themselves beyond their limits, physically, mentally and emotionally.” USA Network will air Eco-Challenge Borneo, a six-hour series from April 1-5 2001 from 8:00 - 9:00 PM ET/PT, with a highlight special on April 10, 10:00-11:00PM ET/PT.

Internationally, Eco-Challenge New Zealand will receive widespread distribution from Columbia TriStar International Television (CTIT). CTIT will manage the licensing of the sports event to broadcasters overseas. Additionally, the sports event will air on AXN, CTIT's action and adventure-branded basic cable channel throughout Asia and Latin America, with targeted feeds in Spain and Israel. AXN is presently seen in 15 countries, reaching over 15 million households.

"We are pleased to continue to offer this highly anticipated sports event to our clients and advertisers," commented Peter Iacono, Executive Vice President, Sales for CTIT, "and look forward to building on its global appeal."

Discovery Channel Canada is Canada’s top-rated network for viewer satisfaction and will continue to distribute Eco-Challenge to Canadian viewers, as it has since 1996. Its entertaining and award-winning programs explore the fascinating worlds of nature, science and technology and adventure. As a producer and broadcaster of documentary programming, Discovery Channel Canada is internationally recognized for innovation and quality in all areas of the broadcast industry.

"Eco-Challenge continues to be one of Discovery Channel's highest-rated and most-anticipated programs, year after year" said Meg Pinto, Discovery Channel's Senior Vice-President of Marketing and Sales. "Eco-Challenge 2001 presents our audience with the opportunity not only to witness Canadian and international elite athletes competing, but also to marvel at New Zealand's spectacular mountains, pristine lakes and rivers, and snaking glaciers."

The Eco-Challenge name and logo are registered trademarks of J. Mark Burnett and may not be reproduced. Eco-Challenge®, The Expedition Race™, Expedition Racing™ and Expedition Competition™ and all associated logos and service marks are all trademarks or registered trademarks of J. Mark Burnett in the United States and/or other countries.

USA Network, owned and operated by USA Cable, a division of USA Networks, Inc.’s (NASDAQ:USAI) Entertainment unit, is cable television’s leading provider of original series and feature movies, sports events, off-net television shows and blockbuster theatrical films. USA Network is available in 78% of all U.S. homes, and is seen in more than 80 million U.S. homes. The USA Network Web site is located at

For more information on Eco-Challenge, please visit our website at
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Press Contacts:
Meredith Potter 310-399-3080 x 4028
Aurli Bokovza 212-413-5552

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