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DOJ probes TV station owners; Trump threatens Twitter over 'shadow banning'


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DOJ probes TV station owners; Trump threatens Twitter over 'shadow banning'

Top News

* The U.S. Department of Justice is seeking to determine whether collaboration between Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc., Tribune Media Co. and other independent TV station owners resulted in higher ad prices, The Wall Street Journal reports, citing sources with knowledge of the matter. Government officials initiated the review after discovering the alleged ad sales practice during the review of Sinclair's proposed acquisition of Tribune, the sources said.

* President Donald Trump in a tweet has threatened to investigate Twitter Inc. for allegedly "shadow banning" prominent Republicans. Citing many complaints, Trump said the government will "look into this discriminatory and illegal practice."

* MoviePass CEO Mitch Lowe said the theater-based subscription company's mission is to help — not hinder — the box office, but that will require shaking up some established industry practices.

* Although commentary about consolidation activities will have an overhang on June earnings reports from TV network owners, analysts said they expect to hear about better virtual video provider results, improved ratings and advertising performances, as well as soft affiliate fee gains during earnings calls with executives. On the distribution front, RBC Capital Markets analyst Steven Cahall wrote in a note that virtual multichannel video providers were additive in the first quarter.


* Comcast Corp. is learning to live and grow even as video customers decline. The company reported 140,000 video customer net losses in the second quarter, a drop that Comcast President, Chairman and CEO Brian Roberts said was a result of continuing competition from lower-cost virtual multichannel video programming distributors such as DISH Network Corp.'s Sling TV and AT&T Inc.'s DIRECTV NOW.

TV Networks

* News networks provider Cheddar Inc. signed a carriage agreement with the National Cable Television Cooperative. The deal will provide more than 750 cable and broadband companies access to the linear news network, according to a news release. Also, NCTC members with high speed data customers will be able to add Cheddar access via its website and apps in the coming months.

* Time Warner Inc.'s HBO (US) is working with basketball star LeBron James to develop a new unscripted series, titled "The Shop," Multichannel News reports, citing a network statement. The series, which will premiere Aug. 28, will feature unfiltered conversation and debate with some of the biggest names in sports and entertainment.

Internet & OTT

* The National Cable Television Cooperative struck a deal to offer Philo's TV streaming service to its members. Philo currently features more than 40 cable channels for $16 a month, according to a news release.

* Facebook Inc. acquired Israeli messaging company Redkix for an undisclosed sum. Oudi and Roy Antebi, the co-founders of Redkix, said in a post on the company's website that it will join the Workplace team at Facebook to "help connect people and give the world a place to work together."

* Netflix Inc. will develop a movie based on a book, called "Shoe Dog," by NIKE Inc. co-founder and board Chairman Emeritus Phil Knight. The book "offers a rare and revealing look at the notoriously media-shy man" behind one of the world's most iconic brands, according to a news release.

* Netflix placed an order for a dark comedy series, called "Daybreak." Based on a graphic novel by Brian Ralph, the 10-episode series finds a 17-year-old high school outcast searching for his missing girlfriend in post-apocalyptic Glendale, Calif., the company said.

The day ahead

Early morning futures indicators pointed to a higher opening for the U.S. market.

In Asia, the Hang Seng increased 0.08% to 28,804.28, and the Nikkei 225 rose 0.56% to 22,712.75.

In Europe, around midday, the FTSE 100 was up 0.58% to 7,707.50, and the Euronext 100 was up 0.24% to 1,078.64.

On the macro front

The GDP report, the consumer sentiment report and the Baker-Hughes Rig Count report are due out today.

Featured news

The Daily Dose Europe: Sky, Telefónica extend UK mobile deal; Cellnex Telecom stake up for sale: Pay TV giant Sky PLC has agreed to extend its existing mobile partnership in Britain with Spain's Telefónica SA, while Italy's Benetton family is poised to sell its almost 30% stake in telecom towers operator Cellnex Telecom SA.

The Daily Dose Asia-Pacific: China blocks Qualcomm's NXP bid; Tencent-backed Pinduoduo soars on US debut: Qualcomm Inc.'s bid to acquire NXP Semiconductors NV failed after Chinese regulatory authorities did not grant approval, while Tencent Holdings Ltd.-backed Pinduoduo Inc. soared on its U.S. debut.

Hires and Fires: Nielsen CEO to retire; Paramount TV CEO fired: Mitch Barns, Nielsen Holdings PLC's CEO and a member of the board, will retire from the company at year-end, while Amy Powell has been fired as CEO of Paramount unit Paramount TV.

Netflix ramps up presence in India; China's iQIYI acquires mobile game developer: Netflix is stepping up its efforts to strengthen its foothold in India, while iQIYI Inc. acquired a mobile game developer Skymoons Inc. and Chengdu Skymoons Digital Entertainment Co. Ltd.

Q&A: PwC global TMT head: Hong Kong's shift to digital ads slower than China: PricewaterhouseCoopers' global, China and Hong Kong head for technology, media and telecommunications, Wilson Chow, told S&P Global Market Intelligence that Chinese tech giants drive digital advertising spending in Hong Kong.

Featured research

Consumer Insights: Surveys find that US consumer interest in smart home technology is growing: Over the past two years, surveys show that interest in smart home technology is growing among U.S. internet households. The most popular smart home products include smart speakers and smart home security systems.

Multichannel Trends: Five-year US cable wireless outlook features upside with constraints: Projecting cable wireless subscribers and revenues through 2022.

Wireless Investor: Belgium mobile projections, 2018-2028: Belgium subs are slow to expand as the subscriber base moves into postpaid bundled plans while prepaid and MVNO subs continue to fall.

Technology: Wearable Tech: Smartwatch demand spikes, fitness trackers slip: The market for wearable technologies experienced some fluctuations over the past year, as demand for fitness tracker products decreased while global smartwatch growth has been strong.

Economics of Networks: Turner networks grow revenue, shrink profits in Q2: AT&T management used the company's earnings call, including results from freshly acquired WarnerMedia, to focus on the importance of premium content.

Consumer Insights: What device do you use to stream video to the TV?: Streaming media players are holding on to the top spot for streaming video to the TV, but not by much.

Economics of Advertising: Scale is key as global TV network groups trail further behind tech giants: Facing the advertising dominance of Google LLC and Facebook, legacy TV networks are pooling resources and exploring new monetization — even as competition grows from industries diversifying into TV and digital content, as well as from tech competitors.

Recent earnings

Analysts urge long-term view of Facebook amid stock rout: Facebook's second-quarter earnings results triggered a stock sell-off July 26 that wiped out billions in the company's market value, but several analysts called the response an overreaction given the company's long-term potential.

NBCU CEO: Programmer led upfront advertising market for 2018-2019 TV season: NBCUniversal Media LLC CEO Steve Burke told analysts that with a significant volume gain and even stronger rate advances negotiations for the 2018-19 TV season were the best since the content company has been part of Comcast.

NBCUniversal CEO: Universal Beijing park project unaffected by trade 'friction': Despite escalating trade tensions between the U.S. and China, construction of Comcast's planned theme park in Beijing remains on track, company executives said.

Spotify Q2 promotions boost subscribers by 40%, though net loss widens: In its second quarterly report as a public company, Spotify Technology SA saw its subscriptions jump 40% thanks in part to new promotional efforts. That said, the company fell deeper in the red.

Nielsen's stock falls after Q2 earnings miss, lowered second-half expectations: Nielsen Holdings' stock tumbled by more than 20% after the company missed second-quarter expectations and executives lowered financial guidance for the rest of the year amid weakness in global markets and fallout from regulatory changes in Europe.

Sky dismisses sports rights threat from intermediary groups as revenues rise 5%: Sky CEO Jeremy Darroch dismissed suggestions that aggressive sports rights acquisitions by intermediary groups, such as Eleven Sports Network, MediaPro and Perform Group, pose a threat to the pan-European pay TV giant.

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