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Apple's Irish tax bill likely set; Vodafone defends India strategy

TOP NEWS

* The €13 billion in back-taxes that Apple Inc. needs to pay to Ireland, as calculated by the European Commission, is unlikely to change, Reuters reports, citing Irish Finance Minister Michael Noonan. The commission sought Ireland's calculation of the exact total of the back-taxes based on the methodology stated in the ruling.

* Vodafone Group plc CEO Vittorio Colao defended the group's strategy for its Indian operations, insisting Vodafone is "well-positioned" to reap the market's long-term benefits. The FTSE company confirmed Jan. 30 that its Vodafone India unit, the country's second-largest mobile operator, is in talks with India's third-biggest network, Idea Cellular.

PAN-EUROPEAN

* The European Commission is investigating alleged anticompetitive practices in the e-commerce industry. The three separate investigations that have been launched are focused on consumer electronics manufacturers, video games and agreements regarding hotel accommodation between European tour operators and hotels, the Brussels-based EU body said.

UK AND IRELAND

* Vodafone may cancel its plans to launch a pay-TV service in the U.K. to focus on increasing its market share in the broadband market in the country, London's The Daily Telegraph reports.

* FremantleMedia Ltd. is restructuring its U.K. operations to combine its entertainment and factual labels, according to a news release. Channel 4 (UK)'s head of popular factual TV, Liam Humphreys, will become CEO of FremantleMedia U.K.'s unscripted segment.

* Thinkbox, a marketing body for commercial TV in the U.K., appointed Zoë Clapp, UKTV Media's chief marketing and communications officer, as a member of its board, according to a news release. Clapp replaces former Thinkbox director Jan Gooze-Zijl, who is also UKTV's chief financial and operations officer.

GERMANY, SWITZERLAND AND AUSTRIA

* Vodafone Germany will roll out GigaTV, a new advanced television platform, over the former Vodafone Kabel Deutschland GmbH cable network, Digital TV Europe reports, citing Bild. Launching this month, GigaTV will come with a 1TB hard drive, which will also show content in Ultra HD.

* ProSiebenSat.1 Media SE entered a long-term contract with Vodafone Deutschland to distribute free-TV, pay-TV, HDTV and video-on-demand services, Finanzen reports. Vodafone customers will be able to subscribe to the VOD platform maxdome by the end of February.

* Vodafone Deutschland announced a 1.8% rise in service revenue for the third quarter to December 2016. Total revenue was slightly down by 0.6% to €2.69 billion.

FRANCE

* RTL Group and RTL Radio flagged accounting misstatements of RTL Radio France going back over a number of years, according to a news release. RTL is conducting a forensic audit of RTL Radio France's consolidated accounts for 2016.

* Taqnia Space selected French satellite operator Eutelsat Communications SA to provide high-throughput connectivity. The service will support live TV, onboard voice/GSM and broadband on commercial aircraft connected to the TSC Aero platform Taqnia Space Airline over the Middle East, North Africa, the Mediterranean and Europe.

* French search engine Qwant raised €18.5 million to further its development in Europe, La Tribune reports. Investors are Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations with €15 million and one of Qwant's shareholders, Axel Springer, with €3.5 million.

* France's highest administrative court, the Conseil d'Etat, is examining Google Inc.'s failure to act on requests pertaining to the right to be forgotten, Les Echos reports. Four individual plaintiffs have objected to the refusal of the Alphabet Inc. unit and French digital privacy watchdog CNIL to remove articles or videos that come up in search engine results for the plaintiff's names.

NETHERLANDS, BELGIUM AND LUXEMBOURG

* Vodafone Netherlands lost 92,000 customers in the last quarter of 2016, according to Nu.nl. The drop was mainly due to many mobile customers transferring to competitors and fierce competition in the corporate market.

* Telecommunications company Lebara Group appointed Stefan Brzozowski as new director of Lebara Netherlands from Feb. 1, according to Telecompaper. Brzozowski, who over the past five years worked as marketing director and sales director at T-Mobile Netherlands, will succeed Marcel Timmerhuis.

* The Belgian Entertainment Association has gone to court to demand piracy websites be blocked by providers such as Proximus and Brutélé, De Tijd reports. The BEA wants nine streaming and download websites, including The Pirate Bay and Popcorn Time, declared illegal.

NORDIC COUNTRIES

* Telenor ASA reported an operating profit of 10.8 billion Norwegian kroner in the fourth quarter of 2016, marginally lower than the year-ago period, and slightly lower than analysts expected. Poor prospects for online ads were given as explanation for the drop. The telecom group's revenues totaled 33.1 billion kroner in the fourth quarter, 340 million kroner less than the year-ago period.

* Nokia Inc.'s operating profit fell in the fourth quarter of 2016. The company reported an operating profit excluding extraordinary items of €940 million, down from about €1.3 billion in the year-ago period.

* Modern Times Group MTG AB reported increased sales and a higher-than-expected result for the fourth quarter of 2016. The media group had an operating profit of 554 million Swedish kronor, up from 434 million kronor in the year-ago period.

* Spotify Ltd. may postpone its planned IPO, TechCrunch reports, citing sources. The company was reportedly aiming for a public listing during the second half, but the sources said this may be delayed to 2018 due to necessary changes to Spotify's business model, the licensing relationship to record companies and possible renegotiating of financing.

SOUTHERN EUROPE

* Telefónica S.A. delayed plans to sell a minority stake in U.K. operator unit O2 until the second half, Telecompaper reports, citing Expansión. The move was reportedly triggered by doubts surrounding the U.K.'s exit from the EU and the weak British pound.

* Pay TV operator MEO TV secured exclusive rights to distribute the NBA TV channel in Portugal, Telecompaper reports, citing Jornal de Negócios. The channel will enable MEO subscribers to watch NBA, WNBA and NBA D-League games on pay TV, as well as on mobile devices via the MEO Go service. Altice NV's PT Portugal owns MEO.

* Sky Italia S.R.L. CEO Andrea Zappia submitted the company's restructuring plan to the Italian government, following earlier reports about the Sky plc unit's plans to slash about 200 jobs, Telecompaper reports. Sky Italia reportedly intends to start negotiating the plan with labor unions soon.

* Italian telecom regulator AgCom imposed a fine of €258,000 on VimpelCom's Wind Telecomunicazioni SpA and CK Hutchison Holdings Ltd.'s 3 Italia for overcharging EU roaming fees to its customers, Telecompaper reports, citing La Repubblica. The watchdog also ordered the two companies, now under the joint venture Wind Tre, to refund excess charges to customers.

EASTERN EUROPE

* Poland's competition watchdog slapped fines totaling more than 40 million Polish zlotys on Cyfrowy Polsat SA and Polkomtel SA for misleading advertising, Broadband TV News reports. Cyfrowy Polsat, which was hit with a 9.7 million zloty penalty, and Polkomtel, which was fined 30.7 million zlotys, are also required to publish the watchdog's ruling on their websites.

* Slovenia's Public Agency for Protection of Competition is investigating broadcaster Pro Plus for infringement, following the withdrawal of the channels Pop TV and Kanal A from Slovenia's digital terrestrial network, Telecompaper reports, citing STA. This reportedly caused major operators to raise prices of packages containing both channels.

* CME Bulgaria B.V.-owned Bulgarian broadcaster bTV Media is facing a complaint from local advertising agency Piero 97 for alleged abuse of the former's dominant position in negotiating advertising deals, Broadband TV News reports, citing Capital. The country's Commission for Protection of Competition is expected to announce proceedings on the case soon.

* Rostelecom PJSC is planning to shell out 500 million Russian rubles to acquire premium gaming content, which it will offer later in a separate tariff for gamers, Telecompaper reports, citing Comnews.ru. The Russian operator has been in a collaboration with game developer Wargaming Group Ltd. since January 2016.

* Vodafone Hungary launched 4G+ services in Budapest and its catchment area, the Budapest Business Journal reports, citing a company statement. The rollout follows the telco's doubling of LTE capacity using the 1,800 MHz band.

* IBM Corp. named Peter Rehus as country leader for its Hungarian operations, the Budapest Business Journal reports, citing a company statement. Rehus was previously commercial leader of IBM Cognitive Engagement Europe's Software-as-a-Service division.

FEATURED NEWS

The Program Guide: Global edition: Discovery orders Asian shows; Gordon Ramsay back to ITV: The Program Guide's global edition highlights recent programming announcements from various networks and online video platforms around the world.

FEATURED RESEARCH

Economics of TV & Film: DreamWorks Animation's 'Trolls' projected as top February video release: The latest animated feature from DreamWorks Animation, "Trolls," is set to take over retail shelves when it is released Feb. 7 on DVD and Blu-ray.

Anne Freier, Sylvia Edwards Davis, Charlotte van Hek 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.