When it comes to a daily news fix, readers in Bangkok have had a choice of two English-language papers. For the Bangkok Post and The Nation, it is a duopoly that seems to work well, judging by their profits over the last few years. Business Day, a faltering business daily, ranks a very distant third. So when a newcomer arrived on the scene in June, tongues began wagging in media circles. Who was the upstart willing to take on Bangkok's long-established English-language newspapers? The answer was Sondhi Limthongkul, a media tycoon who launched the English-language Asia Times in the booming 1990s, only to see it crash during the financial crisis. That ambitious daily was supposed to challenge the strong western presence in many Asian media markets. But if you can't beat them, why not join them? In this case, the International Herald Tribune (IHT) has joined forces with Mr Sondhi in a bid to expand its reach in Thailand. Readers of the IHT now receive an eight-page insert called Thai Day, published by Mr Sondhi's group. It is a concise competitor to the Post and Nation, heavy on politics and business. This is a formula that the IHT has used in other markets to boost circulation, including South Korea and Japan. While the daily mix of stories in Thai Day is fairly predictable, its editorials and opinion pieces have proved anything but. In recent months, its columnists have gleefully put the boot into Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. They have even dared to besmirch his name over sensitive debates regarding the replacement of Thailand's auditor-general and a military reshuffle. Nobody in Bangkok is in any doubt about who is behind this invective, even if the columns use pseudonyms. Mr Sondhi has been so anti-Thaksin in a weekly television talk show that the programme was cancelled. And Mr Thaksin is suing Mr Sondhi, his co-host and his media company, saying they made false accusations against him. Undeterred, Mr Sondhi has used his media outlets to praise himself as a fearless defender of truth. He has also taken his talk show to other venues, to continue his harsh criticism of a prime minister who has muzzled much of Thailand's media. Until recently, Mr Sondhi was one of Mr Thaksin's biggest cheerleaders. Mr Sondhi owed the leader a huge favour for government debt write-offs that helped turn his media empire around. When plans for Thai Day first leaked out, media pundits expected just another pro-Thaksin publication. Now it's a local must-read. Perhaps that was Mr Sondhi's intention from the start. Controversy sells, above all.