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Babelgum bursts into Ireland

Emerald Isle gets IPTV

Italian media magnate Silvio Scaglia is to set up the international headquarters of his new internet broadcasting service in Dublin.

The Irish Times reported on Monday that Scaglia, who ranks 764th in the Forbes list of billionaires, plans to create 100 media jobs in Dublin to support the launch of internet protocol television (IPTV) service Babelgum.

Scaglia, a telecommunications entrepreneur, founded fibre to the home (FTTH) broadband company FastWeb in 1999 after working as chief executive of Italian mobile operator Omnitel (now Vodafone Italia).

Babelgum chief executive Erik Lumer told reporters Scaglia's group had chosen to set up in Dublin because of the availability of skilled technical people and also because of the presence of technology giants such as Google.

Babelgum is focusing on encouraging independent producers to supply programming to its new service in order to get around copyright issues that have bogged down other IPTV start-ups. The Irish Times suggests this strategy could be beneficial for Ireland's independent production sector if it can negotiate with RTE the right to sell productions originally commissioned by the State broadcaster.

Irish technical staff may also be expected to play a role in developing new ways for viewers to find and share video programming on the web, and Babelgum is currently developing new search and programme-sharing technologies, according to media reports.

Babelgum is planning to broadcast nine channels showing English language videos, movie trailers, short films, Associated Press news clips, entertainment news, sports and animation. Like similar service Joost, Babelgum will be free to view but will include ads.

Babelgum users will need a broadband connection to access the service, and will also have to download Babelgum software in order to turn their PC monitor into an internet TV screen.

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