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Thu, Jan 18, 2007 - Page 10 News List

Skype creators unveil new `Joost' project


The co-founders of the Internet telephone service Skype unveiled the brand name and details of their latest project on Tuesday: an Internet-based TV service called Joost.

Entrepreneurs Niklas Zennstrom and Janus Friis, who sold Skype for US$2.6 billion to eBay Inc in 2005, said the new project combined aspects of file-sharing software and regular broadcast TV.

Joost -- pronounced "juiced" -- may eventually try to move onto TV sets, but it will initially focus on making it easier and more fun to watch TV on a computer.

Like Skype users, Joost users will first download a free interface software.

This time, it will help them browse the Internet for channels and clips they're interested in, rather than make phone calls.

"We're currently in a test phase with a limited `beta' release, so we have content matching our base," chief executive Fredrik de Wahl said in a telephone interview.

He said the company had deals with Warner Music, September Films (Bridezillas) and Endemol NV (Big Brother) among others, but planned to make content deals globally as the service grows.

De Wahl said the Joost interface will be open for other software developers to create their own interactive features.

The service will be supported by ads, he said, but these will be briefer and less frequent than on regular TV -- like corporate underwriting on public radio.

Viewers will have a broader selection of programming and will be able to watch whenever they want.

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