A new village welcomed its first residents in Hong Kong yesterday as the special $85 million media centre for the handover opened. Perched at the top of the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, the 107,000 square feet office will be a second home to many of the 8,000 journalists covering the event. Alongside the thousands of phone lines and computers, the centre boasts food stalls, a post office, photo processing laboratories and an Internet access area. There is even a 24-hour mini-hospital, complete with nurses. Few major news organisations from around the world are not represented at the centre. Even the People's Liberation Army Daily, the Chinese military's own newspaper, had booked its space. To rent a harbour front position for broadcasts costs about $4,000 an hour, while a studio to record in, plus camera crew, comes at just under $5,000 for 30 minutes. Thomas Chan Chun-yuen, the Government's Director of Information Services, said most journalists would be from Hong Kong, with 2,800 representatives. Japan is sending 1,300, the United States 1,000, Britain 700 and China 600. In all, 770 media organisations have been accredited. Meanwhile, 400 kilometres of video and audio cables and 40 tonnes of television equipment have been installed. Huge monitors made up of dozens of individual television screens will carry announcements and show live coverage of the ceremony. The centre was two years in the planning and will be open round-the-clock to July 10.