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Fox ups Sky offer; Qualcomm hikes NXP bid

TOP NEWS

* 21st Century Fox Inc. improved its offer for Sky plc, promising to fund Sky News for at least 10 years, London's The Daily Telegraph reports. The new offer, submitted to the U.K. Competitions and Markets Authority, improves Fox's earlier five-year funding guarantee. The CMA is due to submit its recommendation on the Fox-Sky deal to British Culture Secretary Matt Hancock in May.

* Qualcomm Inc. said it raised its offer for NXP Semiconductors NV to $127.50 per share from $110.0 per share initially agreed in October 2016, in a $43.23 billion bid that comes as it seeks to fend off a hostile takeover bid by Broadcom Ltd. The latter earlier increased its bid for Qualcomm to about $121 billion earlier in February, saying that its offer depended on Qualcomm's acquiring NXP under the previous offer or dropping the deal. Broadcom said it is evaluating its options.

PAN-EUROPEAN

* Mariya Gabriel, European commissioner for digital economy and society, is pushing for the creation of a searchable pan-European film directory under the European Commission's #Digital4Culture program, Digital TV Europe reports. Gabriel said the directory, which will include data on films available online, would be initially available for industry professionals and later opened to the public.

UK AND IRELAND

* Eir announced the appointment of Carolan Lennon as its CEO and David McRedmond as nonexecutive chairman. The appointments will become effective after a consortium led by NJJ Telecom Europe closes its purchase of a majority stake in eir. Lennon is currently the managing director of eir's networks and wholesale unit, open eir, while McRedmond is the CEO of An Post.

* The U.K.'s National Cyber Security Centre will continue to work with Huawei despite security risks flagged by U.S. intelligence agencies, U.K.'s The Daily Telegraph reports. Huawei operates a cybersecurity center in the U.K. called "The Cell," under supervision by the NCSC.

* The British Broadcasting Corp. launched its new BBC VR app alongside "Damming the Nile VR," a two-part VR news documentary. It charts the water politics of the river Nile and features BBC Africa correspondent Alastair Leithead.

* Native advertising platform Adyoulike SA named Lee Gibson as managing director for its U.K. operations. An industry veteran, Gibson joins Adyoulike from content discovery platform Outbrain where he last served as head of sales for northern Europe.

GERMANY, SWITZERLAND AND AUSTRIA

* Deutsche Telekom AG is preparing to launch a "super-vectoring" pilot project in the state of Rhineland-Palatinate in May, German daily Die Welt reports. Internal company documents show Deutsche Telekom is planning to upgrade 15.4 million households with super vectoring by the end of the year to deliver internet speeds up to 250 Mbps. Prices for the company's super-vectoring tariffs have not yet been set.

* Magine TV has started offering all free-to-air TV channels of commercial broadcaster RTL Deutschland in HD quality, RTL Group announced. With RTL, VOX, Nitro, n-tv, Super RTL, RTL II, RTLplus and Toggo plus, the Comfort HD subscription package now comprises all major German free-TV channels in HD quality including the ProSiebenSat.1 Media SE channels and Eurosport 1.

* Deutsche Telekom, Intel Corp. and Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. successfully conducted a 5G interoperability and development testing based on the 3GPP R15 Standard with a commercial base station in an operator lab environment, Deutsche Telekom said.

* Swiss service provider Net+ has tapped Viaccess-Orca Ltd. to power its new multiscreen TV service, Digital TV Europe reports. The Net+ Mobile TV offering is powered by VO Player and offers a unified viewer experience across Android and iOS devices, as well as via web browsers on PCs and Macs.

FRANCE

* An interruption of TF1 Group channels to Orange SA subscribers in Reunion Island on Feb. 20 was not related to the dispute over broadcasting fees, Univers Freebox reports. Orange said the temporary glitch was due to technical difficulty, and that negotiations with TF1 are ongoing.

* Online news sites Next INpact and Contexte filed a joint request before the French transparency administration Commission d'Accès aux Documents Administratifs to obtain details of the agreement between the government and mobile operators for the deployment of 4G to cover all of France by 2020. The agreement was announced in Jan. 2018 but no details of the terms were provided.

* The former director of streaming site Streamiz was found guilty of piracy by the court of Nanterre, Le Figaro reports. The sentence included a two-year prison term and €83.6 million in damages to compensate the injured parties including Walt Disney Co., Time Warner Inc.'s Warner Bros, 20th Century Fox, French royalties distribution association SACEM, and two professional unions.

* Groupe M6 posted results for the year 2017 with consolidated revenues of €1.39 billion, up 8.5% year over year, and net income of €158.4 million, up 3.7% from €152.8 million in 2016.

NETHERLANDS, BELGIUM AND LUXEMBOURG

* De Persgroep NV, The Post Online and GeenStijl jointly filed a lawsuit against the European Commission, which they accuse of distributing false information through the EU's East Stratcom Taskforce. The three media companies demand for a rectification and the deletion of all information relating the companies to "fake news."

* Dutch digital rights organization Bits of Freedom warned of the pending "largest internet filter of Europe," referring to a section of a new European copyright regulation on copyrights. BoF said copyright violations cannot be prevented through filters, which only limit the freedom of the internet.

NORDIC COUNTRIES

* Spotify AB could be working on a smart speaker, London's The Guardian reports, quoting new job listings. The listings said Spotify is working to create its "first physical product" and needs managers to handle its manufacture and supply.

* Danish market intelligence company Infomedia A/S said it is acquiring Norwegian media surveillance unit Opoint Technology from Finnish company M-Brain Oy. The deal includes Opoint's web crawler technology, a global online news archive and more than 70 international customers.

* Finnish software company Dark Matter, which makes chat app Pen, has been declared bankrupt, Di Digital reports, citing Rapidus. The bankruptcy manager is looking for buyers for the company's software.

* Ericsson AB said it has teamed up with AT&T Inc. to build new internet-of-things service capabilities for business customers. With Ericsson, AT&T will offer Global Device Certification, which includes testing, verification and assistance with regulatory approval for IoT devices.

* Nokia Corp. said it has launched new services to solve urbanization challenges. The IoT for Smart Cities and Sensing as a Service services will offer IoT solutions for building sustainable cities, while the S-MVNO for Public Safety service can help enhance commercial LTE networks to meet public safety requirements.

SOUTHERN EUROPE

* Telecom Italia SpA is set to decide on the week of Feb. 26 whether it will accept a joint offer by Italian infrastructure F2i and towers operator Rai Way SpA to acquire a majority stake in its broadcasting services unit Persidera, Reuters reports, citing a source. The F2i-Rai Way bid for Persidera, worth about €250 million, is reportedly below Telecom Italia's valuation of about €350 million.

* Sky Italia SRL has confirmed a return to the calendar monthly billing cycle, following a similar move by its fellow Italian operators, Telecompaper reports. The Sky unit also intends to retain the annual costs of its services.

* Communications provider RingCentral Inc. said it has been tapped by Madrid-based cloud computing provider Intelligence Partner to support the latter's cloud communications products for its business customers in Spain.

* Telefónica SA urged entrepreneurs and startups across Spain to participate in its Open Future program in one of its seven designated facilities, Telecompaper reports. The telecom giant intends to provide network and technology support to chosen startups for up to 8 months.

EASTERN EUROPE

* Multiscreen solutions provider Zenterio AB said it struck a partnership with Telekom Romania that will see the former providing the Zenterio OS operating system for new models of set-top boxes to be used in the telco's Interactiv IPTV service.

* Magyar Telekom is eyeing a further expansion of its network to 300,000 more households in 2018, after its fixed broadband services have already reached more than 3 million homes as of last year, Broadband TV News reports.

* Russian media and telecom regulator Roskomnadzor blocked the illegal retransmission of the TV3, TNT, CTC, Dohzd, Pyatnitsa and Ren TV channels on more than 200 online sites, Broadband TV News reports, citing TelecomDaily. The watchdog made the move in compliance with an order from the Moscow City Court regarding the matter.

FEATURED NEWS

FOX News Channel targets 'superfans' with OTT streaming service: Set to bow in the fourth quarter, Fox Nation will be sold directly to consumers, but FOX News Channel will work with traditional distributors in marketing the add-on product.

La Liga eyes OTT service; Italian broadcasters bag sports rights: In this monthly feature, S&P Global Market Intelligence provides a roundup of news related to over-the-top, video-on-demand and other video initiatives in Spain, Italy, Portugal, Greece and Turkey.

FEATURED RESEARCH

Multichannel Trends: 2017 VOD title counts boast big increases: The average title count for the major cable operators and Verizon FiOS, according to surveyed responses and published reports, topped 93,000 selections per month at the end of 2017.

Daniela Latini, Sylvia Edwards Davis, Koen Pijnappels and Esben Svendsen contributed to this report. The Daily Dose has an editorial deadline of 7 a.m. London time. Some external links may require a subscription.