Yahoo! is planning to step up development of its content and delivery platforms for its European audience following the appointment of two key new media directors.

Lloyd Shepherd rejoins Yahoo! as director of news, sport and information following a five-year stint at the Guardian, most recently as deputy director of digital publishing.

Celador's former director of interactive media Simon Gunning will be director of entertainment and games and both roles will involve developing and implementing Yahoo!'s product strategy for Europe.

Mr Shepherd anticipates an "inevitable move" towards creating Kevin Sites-style original content for the site, although he said that Yahoo!'s main focus is on purposing content for new delivery platforms.

Multimedia reporter Kevin Sites was hired by Yahoo! in September 2005 to produce original, multimedia news reports for the site. Working as a 'backpack journalist' with a laptop, satellite phone and handheld reporting tools, he produces text, audio, video and interactive 'Hotzone' stories from the world's war zones.

Mr Shepherd also told that Yahoo! is in a good position to contribute to the ongoing debate about the aggregation of news content by search engines.

The World Association of Newspapers said last month that its members want to formalise the relationships with search engine businesses that are 'built on the exploitation' of their news content.

He described the relationship between content providers and content aggregators as: "mutually beneficial - and that's something that is not always recognised on both sides".

Mr Shepherd was formerly production director for Yahoo! UK and Ireland until 2001. He joins Yahoo! Europe on 13 March.

He recently blogged about the launch of Yahoo! Go, a tool that allows users to synchronise calendars, addresses, mail and photos between their mobile and computer in real time.

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