Joost, Tom Group Launch China Venture

Joost and Hong Kong-based Internet company Tom Online launched a beta Chinese version of the online video service Wednesday.

The two companies, which are forming a joint venture to provide the service, said they had sourced over 16,000 hours of Chinese-language programming, which they would distribute both inside and beyond Greater China, which includes China, Hong Kong and Taiwan. It sports partnerships with China Record Corp., film and television producers Huayi Brothers Media Group and Taihe Rye Music.

The new venture appears to be ready for prime time in China. was included on a list (Chinese) of 247 online video sites that the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television published on June 18, giving it an edge that two of China's three top video sites don't have. and are still operating without licenses, the latter reappearing after over a month offline.

China heavily regulates online video. In addition to restrictions placed on published and broadcast material, violence, magic and superstition, sexual themes and political subjects, the government watches online video with a wary eye due to its possible immediacy and unvarnished view of events.

Joost, launched by Skype founders Janus Friis and Niklas Zennström in May 2007, seeks to bring broadcast-quality television to the Internet for free, supported by advertising.

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