New site will feature 16,000 hours of content

BEIJING – Internet video firm Joost, started by the founders of Skype, is today (Wednesday) launching a venture in China.

It has teamed up with the Hong Kong-based TOM Group and will bow a jointly branded service joost.tom.com with 16,000 hours of content. This is licensed from local creators including CCTV, China Record Corp, BTV Media, CAV Warner Home Entertainment and Huayi Brothers Media Group, according to news agency reports.

“Joost has always been a global service, and our partnership with TOM is a perfect example of the regionalized offerings we are able to bring to the market,” Joost CEO Mike Volpi said in a statement.

According to sources Tom will sell advertising for the localized version of Joost, while Joost will provide the underlying technology.

Launch comes months after China ordered dozens of Web video services to halt in March. However, by June, Chinese authorities had issued licenses to 247 companies, including Tom Online.

TOM Group is majority controlled by Li Ka-shing, the billionaire shipping to telecoms mogul who is one of the most politically connected businessmen in the region.

Through different companies and trusts Li also has a stake in Joost and social networking site Facebook.

The regulatory crackdown earlier this year was sparked by fears of violent, pornographic and pirated material, according to a government statement in February.

Joost was launched in 2007 by Kazaa and Skype founders Janus Friis and Niklas Zennstrom and promoted a licensed content model, different to the approach that has seen YouTube clash with Viacom.

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