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Apple buys UK startup; NBCU may lose CEO; FTC mulls Facebook injunction

Top News

* Apple Inc. acquired U.K.-based startup Spectral Edge Ltd., which develops technology to improve pictures taken on smartphones, Bloomberg News reports, citing regulatory filings. Apple corporate lawyer Peter Denwood was named a director of Spectral Edge, which terminated the startup’s other advisers and board members.

* Comcast Corp.'s NBCUniversal Media LLC CEO Steve Burke will likely step down from his post in 2020 ahead of the expiry of his contract in August next year, Variety reports, citing multiple sources. NBCUniversal Film and Entertainment Chairman Jeff Shell is reportedly expected to take over the reins after Burke's departure.

* The U.S. Federal Trade Commission is considering pursuing a preliminary injunction against Facebook Inc. due to competition concerns related to the company's practices for integrating apps and how that impacts rivals, The Wall Street Journal reports. The report said that if the injunction were to be filed, it would likely attempt to keep Facebook from further integrating apps that antitrust regulators may try to unwind in a possible future breakup of the company.

* The U.S. Federal Communications Commission voted to advance a proposal to repurpose mid-band spectrum for Wi-Fi and other unlicensed services. The commission would also permit the use of a new automotive communications technology in the upper 20 MHz of the band and consider phasing out an older one in the remaining 10 MHz of the band.


* Microsoft Corp. began hiring people with security clearances in preparation for its work on a multibillion-dollar cloud computing contract with the U.S. defense department, reports, citing sources. The tech company's move came despite Inc.'s lawsuit protesting the Pentagon's decision.

* Cybersecurity services company Fortinet Inc. acquired CyberSponse Inc., an Arlington, Va.-based security automation provider, for an undisclosed sum. The acquisition is expected to help boost Fortinet's product roster.

* Microsoft unveiled the Xbox Series X, a gaming console that is touted to "deliver four times the processing power" of the Xbox One X device, according to a blog post. The company also introduced the Xbox Wireless Controller, which will aid users in capturing screenshots and game clips.

* Enterprise cloud-computing company Inc. promoted Bret Taylor to the role of president and COO. Taylor, previously president and chief product officer, co-founded software firm Quip Inc. that Salesforce acquired in 2016.

Internet & OTT

* Sony Music Entertainment Inc. made a strategic investment of an undisclosed sum in Los Angeles-based podcast production house Neon Hum. As part of the tie-up, Neon Hum will work with the Sony Corp. unit to develop new original podcasts across multiple genres starting in 2020.

* ViacomCBS Inc. units CBS Television Stations Inc. and CBS Interactive Inc. rolled out direct-to-consumer streaming news service CBSN Minnesota. The platform offers live streams of newscasts and breaking news coverage from CBS (US) affiliate WCCO-TV, according to a news release.

* Facebook delayed naming the members of the independent oversight board, which helps users to appeal decisions of the social media company's content. While Facebook had planned to announce the oversight board members by year-end, it has now decided to take more time to review the candidates. The company also pledged $130 million to fund the oversight board.

* Apple commissioned a second season of immigrant anthology series "Little America" even before the first season's debut, Variety reports. Universal Television is producing the series, whose first season premieres Jan. 17, 2020 on the Apple TV+ service.

* Amazon renewed the hit comedy-drama series "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel" for a fourth season, Variety reports. The renewal came less than a week after the third season was made available to Amazon Prime Video users.

* Google LLC rolled out two features on its Messages app to provide a "safer messaging experience" to business owners, according to a blog post. The Alphabet Inc. unit launched a real-time spam detection feature and the Verified SMS service to help confirm the true identity of message senders.

* Mozilla Corp. and other groups have until midnight on Dec. 13 to appeal a court decision upholding the FCC's order to deregulate access to the internet, Multichannel News reports. In a 2017 order, the FCC eliminated internet blocking and throttling rules.


* AT&T Inc. launched its 5G services in 10 more U.S. cities. The company made the next-generation mobile service available to consumers and businesses in Birmingham, Ala.; Indianapolis; Milwaukee; Pittsburgh; Providence, R.I.; Rochester, N.Y.; Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco and San Jose, Calif.

* T-Mobile US Inc. was close to sealing a merger with satellite TV provider DISH Network Corp. in 2015, but the companies could not agree on a price, CNET reports, citing comments by T-Mobile CEO John Legere. Legere said he recommended the supposed deal as it would have allowed T-Mobile to access DISH's spectrum and "un-carrier" its business.

Film & Programming

* An affiliate of Liberty Media Corp. submitted a request with the U.S. Department of Justice to acquire a larger stake in iHeartMedia Inc., The Wall Street Journal reported, citing sources. Liberty Media, which owns a 4.8% stake in iHeartMedia through Sirius XM Holdings Inc., could have outright ownership of the Texas-based media company if a deal is approved.

* Comcast will continue carrying channels and on-demand content from Lions Gate Entertainment Corp.'s Starz on its Xfinity TV service until Dec. 31, as the two companies are working to renew their carriage pact, Multichannel News reports. Comcast originally intended to drop Starz (US) by Dec. 10 and replace it with EPIX (US), but local governments opposed the plan.

* Universal Pictures is developing a film adaptation of "Tapping the Source," which is based on a novel of the same name by writer Kem Nunn, reports. Nunn will produce the film, with Martin Helgeland leading the adaptation efforts.

* "Game of Thrones" co-creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss struck a deal with Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. to produce a thriller based on graphic novel "Lovecraft," reports. Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi will write the script for the untitled film.

The day ahead

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

In Asia, the Hang Seng inched up 2.57% to 27,687.76, and the Nikkei 225 rose 2.55% to 24,023.10.

In Europe, around midday, the FTSE 100 was up 1.84% to 7,406.99, and the Euronext 100 increased 1.11% to 1,138.63.

On the macro front

The retail sales report, the import and export prices, the business inventories report and the Baker-Hughes Rig Count are due out today.

Click here to read about today's financial markets, setting out the factors driving stocks, bonds and currencies around the world ahead of the New York open.

Featured news

The Daily Dose Europe: Facebook oversight board; Eleven Sports' new CEO; Huawei in Germany: Facebook delayed the announcement of its oversight board members, Eleven Sports Network Ltd. appointed a new CEO, and Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd.'s critics in Germany are putting more pressure on the government against the company's involvement in the 5G network rollout.

The Daily Dose Asia-Pacific: Australia's digital platform clampdown; Samsung investment; Netflix LINE series: Australia unveiled tougher measures to regulate digital platforms, Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. will invest an additional US$8 billion at its chip factory in China, and Netflix Inc. will create an original animated series based on LINE Corp. characters.

Hires and Fires: Marvel TV head to depart; Kew Media Group names interim CFO: Marvel Television is shutting down its development plans, just two months after it was moved under Kevin Feige and Marvel Studios LLC, while Kew Media Group Inc. appointed Michael Corrigan interim CFO of the company.

Hires and Fires Europe: Sky Austria chief to exit; Sanoma appoints unit CEO: Christine Scheil is stepping down as managing director of Sky Austria, while Finnish media group Sanoma Oyj named Rob Kolkman CEO of its Sanoma Learning BV unit.

Featured research

Economics of Networks: Scouting Report: Spectrum SportsNet anchored by Lakers' star power: Spectrum SportsNet ranks in the regional sports network segment's top 10 by a number of key RSN metrics, including license-fee revenue, advertising revenue, programming expenses and cash flow.

Global Multichannel: 2019 LatAm groups report: Top groups' EBITDA dropped, but margin grew in 2018: Despite groupwide EBITDA declining 3.6%, profitability increased, with EBITDA margins gaining 1 percentage point. Our study shows Telefónica SA, AT&T and Oi SA had the largest drops in EBITDA.

Global Multichannel: BT secures flat renewal on UEFA soccer rights: While the latest battle for the UEFA broadcast rights threatened to bring traditional and new contenders to market, British Telecom retained the rights and also gained access to a new competition.

Wireless Investor: FCC Auction 103 off to rousing start: In the millimeter-wave spectrum environment, it looks like Auction 103 in the early days is attracting healthy interest and spirited bidding from 35 qualified bidders.

Multichannel Trends: Average cable share price dips in December, but sector to log blockbuster year: With a little over two weeks to go before year-end, Cable One Inc., Charter Communications Inc. and Altice USA Inc. are poised to end 2019 markedly outperforming the S&P 500.

Global Multichannel: 2019 LatAm groups report: groupwide operating cash flow dropped 1.2%: Despite América Móvil SAB de CV's $1.35 billion jump in 2018, declines reported by Telefónica, AT&T, Oi and Entel Chile pressured overall cash flow, which declined $335 million. However, free cash flow grew 7.2% due a $1 billion drop in capex.

Multichannel Trends: November 2019 cable system sales summary: Volume for recorded cable M&A deals year-to-date at an estimated $1.53 billion and the average forward cash flow multiple at 10.5x.

Recent earnings

Adobe shares pop after record fiscal Q4'19, full-year revenue: Adobe Inc. reported double-digit growth across many of its product segments and delivered a fiscal fourth-quarter earnings beat.

Oracle earnings edge up as execs see 'dramatic' growth for autonomous database: Oracle Corp.'s fiscal second-quarter earnings results edged above expectations, but the company is poised for dramatic growth in certain product lines, executives said.

Broadcom beats fiscal Q4'19 estimates as revenue jumps 6% YOY: Broadcom posted better-than-expected earnings per share and revenue for its fiscal 2019 fourth quarter and full year, even as the company's semiconductor revenue continued to decline.

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