Channel Seven places Engin call

Australian television broadcaster Seven Network has taken a 33 percent stake in fledgling Internet telephony company Engin in a move heralding the convergence of telecommunications and media assets Down Under.Seven will invest AU$26 million in Engin through a share placement, with the two engaging in what a joint statement issued this afternoon described as a "strategic partnership" between the two.

Australian television broadcaster Seven Network has taken a 33 percent stake in fledgling Internet telephony company Engin in a move heralding the convergence of telecommunications and media assets Down Under.

Seven will invest AU$26 million in Engin through a share placement, with the two engaging in what a joint statement issued this afternoon described as a "strategic partnership" between the two.

"Seven is rapidly developing its presence in new communications technologies and consumer services, building on our strengths in media," said Seven director Ryan Stokes in the statement.

"We are developing a fully integrated media company across all forms of communications and Engin provides a strong platform for our development in digital media."

Stokes went on to claim that Engin was the market leader for Internet telephony in Australia.

However, as at June 2006, Engin had only 39,000 local subscribers, compared with a claimed 550,000 active users on rival Skype's network.

The statement added Engin had also been in discussions with Seven's Yahoo7 joint venture about delivering Internet telephony beyond Yahoo7's current PC to PC functionality, as well as other discussions with PC and mobile handset manufacturers.

As a result of the partnership, Engin's products will be promoted through Seven's print, television and online assets. Also, content from these areas will be bundled with Engin's voice products.

The move will see three Seven representatives -- Stokes, Bruce McWilliam and Rohan Lund -- join Engin's board, which will also retain four Engin representatives.