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Apple mulls manufacturing in India; Thai cyberlaw draws UN concern

TOP NEWS

* Apple Inc. is in talks with India's government to explore making products locally, The Wall Street Journal reports, citing two senior government officials. Apple reportedly outlined manufacturing plans in a letter to the Indian government in November, and asked for financial incentives.

* The U.N. Human Rights Office for Southeast Asia wrote to Thailand's National Legislative Assembly to express concern that the country's newly amended Computer Crime Act will severely restrict freedom of expression, assembly and privacy online. In a summary of the letter posted online, the U.N. office condemned amendments to the law that enable the Thai government to obtain personal data from internet service providers without a warrant, and prosecute third parties for hosting "distorted" content online.

JAPAN

* Sony Corp.'s Sony Pictures Entertainment purchased a stake of about 5% in Italian video-on-demand platform Chili SpA for about €3 million, Bloomberg News reports, citing people familiar with the matter. Chili's other investors reportedly include Paramount Pictures Corp., Viacom Inc. and Time Warner Inc.'s Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc., which own about 14% of the platform.

* SoftBank Group Corp. will increase orders of advanced 5G-ready mobile equipment from China's ZTE Corp. and Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. as part of a major Japanese infrastructure rollout next year, according to the South China Morning Post. The two Chinese tech firms were part of SoftBank's September launch of a 5G antenna system, called Massive Mimo, in sites around Tokyo.

* KDDI Evolva Inc. announced it will use U.S. tech firm Avaya Inc.'s application development platform Avaya Breeze to create a cloud-based contact center service supporting omnichannel communications. KDDI Evolva is the call-center service unit of Japanese telco KDDI Corp.

SOUTH KOREA

* Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. might have to drop its plan to install its proprietary artificial intelligence assistant on the Galaxy S8 due to objections by Google Inc., Financial News reports. The two companies reportedly signed an Android noncompete pact in 2014, which forbids the Samsung Group unit to launch any services that could be a potential competitor to the Alphabet Inc. subsidiary.

* KakaoTalk, the instant messenger service by South Korea's Kakao Corp., is now connected with local music streaming service Melon, ET News reports. KakaoTalk previously offered one-minute music plays within the app, but the collaboration with Melon reportedly extends the play time to three minutes, while also providing access to Melon's music database.

* South Korean telco SK Telecom Co. Ltd. named Park Jung-ho from SK C&C as its new CEO, ZD Net Korea reports. During his time at C&C, the IT service arm of SK Group, Park led cloud data, AI and connected car projects with global partners including IBM Corp. and Ericsson AB.

CHINA, HONG KONG AND TAIWAN

* Chinese film distributor and producer Bona Film Group Ltd. completed a 2.5 billion Chinese yuan series A funding round after its privatization in April, Caixin reports. Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. unit Alibaba Pictures Group and Tencent Holdings Ltd. participated in the round, which sees the production company now valued at 15 billion yuan.

* Star China Media Corp. unit Canxing Production struck a co-development deal with Syco Entertainment, the production company owned by Simon Cowell. Under the three-year agreement, the two companies will co-produce TV formats targeted for the Chinese market that will also be sold internationally.

* ZTE Smart Auto Corp, a new unit of ZTE Corp., bought 70% of Granton Automobile Co. in Zhuhai to expand into new-energy vehicles, the South China Morning Post reports. The company also plans to open a smart car manufacturing base in Zhuhai in 2018 to produce new-energy buses and logistics vehicles.

* Chinese mobile advertising network Yeahmobi raised US$100 million in funding to expand its business, VentureBeat reports. Investors in the private placement include Beijing Bohai Tongxin Private Equity Fund, Nanjing Huawen Hongsheng Startup Investment Fund and Shenzhen Qianhai Bochuang Private Equity Fund.

* Taiwan's Acer Inc. will book NT$6.34 billion in impairment charges, mainly due to its acquisition of cloud-computing company iGWare in 2012, China Post reports. The move will reduce its earnings per share by NT$2.06.

* Chinese computer manufacturer Lenovo Group Ltd. halved its factory building plans in Brazil as part of a cost-saving strategy, and reportedly cut down the number of staff from 5,000 to 800, Sina reports. The company said the economic recession affected sales in the country.

* ZTE Corp. announced it will join Spanish telco Telefónica De Espana Sa in building a large-scale virtual IP multimedia subsystem, or vIMS, network in Latin America. The network will provide vIMS-based Voice over LTE and Voice over Wi-Fi services for Telefónica customers in seven Latin American countries.

SOUTHEAST ASIA

* Singapore-based Trident Subsea Cable Pty Ltd. announced that it will cooperate with Indonesia's PT Ketrosden Triasmitra to own and operate a fiber-optic telecommunications cable linking Singapore and Indonesia. The strategic venture aims to develop a 1,070-kilometer submarine and terrestrial cable between Singapore and Jakarta, which will be operational by April 2017.

* Vietnamese mobile operator Viettel will no longer impose roaming charges on cross-border calls made between its networks in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos starting Jan. 1, 2017, The Phnom Penh Post reports.

* Hackers from the online activist groups Anonymous and Citizens Against Single Gateway continued to target Thai government servers, disabling several government websites over a single day, Khaosod reports. In response to the attacks, Thailand's Army Cyber Center urged all government agencies to impose tighter security measures and abstain from using government servers unless absolutely necessary.

* PLDT Inc. expects Philippine lawmakers to extend the franchise of its mobile unit Smart Communications for another 25 years before it expires in March 2017, the Manila Standard reports. The telco giant is awaiting approval on the third and final reading once the House reconvenes in January 2017.

* Uber Technologies Inc.'s Indonesian unit partnered with Japanese messaging service operator LINE Corp. to offer a booking feature through LINE apps, Indotelko reports. Uber integrated its platform with LINE to allow users to book rides directly from LINE apps.

* Thai telco Dtac announced a partnership with Ericsson and Facebook Inc. aimed at increasing the overall performance of the Facebook app on Dtac's 4G network by 60%, Than Settakij reports. The three companies said the optimization project will lead to increased Facebook upload and download speeds for Dtac subscribers, and improve app response times during peak usage hours between 7 p.m. and 9 p.m.

AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND

* As expected, Football Federation Australia signed new six-year broadcast agreements with Fox Sports, Foxtel and News Corp. unit News Corp Australia Pty Ltd. for multiplatform coverage on Hyundai A-League games, as well as Socceroos, Matildas, W-League and FFA Cup matches. The deal takes effect on July 1, 2017, and is worth A$346 million.

* Broadcast members of the Online Media Standards Authority entered into a deal with the New Zealand Press Council to better address readers' complaints on digital content by the country's six biggest broadcasters, SKY Network Television Ltd., TVNZ, MediaWorks, Radio New Zealand, NZME Radio and Maori Television. According to Stuff, concerns regarding stories by these broadcasters can be reported to the Press Council.

* Australian media giant Seven West Media Ltd. is facing pressure to replace CEO Tim Worner after allegations that he had an affair with a former executive assistant who reportedly received an undisclosed settlement after resigning from the company, The Australian reports.

INDIA AND SOUTH ASIA

* Amazon.com Inc. infused an additional 20.1 billion Indian rupees into its Indian operations as its continues to chase local e-commerce leader Flipkart, The Economic Times (India) reports. According to regulatory filings, the investment was made in November, which takes the total capital invested in Amazon Seller Services to more than 70 billion rupees in the past year.

* Bharti Airtel Ltd. subsidiary Network i2i struck an agreement with Egyptian firm Orascom Telecom and Media Technology Hldg SAE to acquire the latter's entire equity stake in Middle East North Africa Submarine Cable Systems (MENA-SCS) for an undisclosed amount, CNBC's Money Control reports. MENA-SCS, a 100% subsidiary of Orascom, owns and operates a submarine cable network between India and Europe covering the Middle East, with options to extend the network to Africa.

FEATURED NEWS

VR Focus: Facebook firmly believes in VR, despite slow start: Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg may be a firm believer in virtual reality technology, but the social media giant faces some stiff challenges when it comes to the adoption of VR.

Tech Time: Alphabet creates self-driving tech firm, shelves autonomous car plans: In this feature, S&P Global Market Intelligence presents a biweekly global roundup of the latest developments in technology.

FEATURED RESEARCH

Consumer Insights: Content preferences mixed among Amazon Prime Video subscribers: SNL Kagan asked Amazon Prime Video subscribers what content they viewed on the service as well as which type of content they found most enjoyable. Movies were the most commonly viewed content type, although many respondents had no specific set of video they enjoyed most.

Joji Sakurai, Sunny Um, Emily Lai, Patrick Tibke and Kevin Osmond contributed to this report. The Daily Dose has an editorial deadline of 7 a.m. Hong Kong time. Some external links may require a subscription.