* Southeast Asian video streaming platform Hooq Digital Pte. Ltd. struck a content representation agreement with All3media International Ltd. under which the U.K.-based content distributor will manage the global sales of Hooq's original content, TBI Vision reports. With 63 original productions across the region, Hooq plans to expand its originals slate to 100 by the second quarter of 2020.
* TV TOKYO Holdings Corp. will set up a production company in China in February 2020 to tap the growing popularity of animated works in the country. The broadcaster is looking to develop original series with local partners. Meanwhile, Tokyo-based financial service provider ORIX Corp. is also in talks to launch a licensing and distribution business for local films in China, according to The Nikkei.
* Seven West Media Ltd. acquired 54,594,367 shares in Prime Media Group Ltd., representing a 14.9% stake in the company, in exchange for the issue of 30 million new shares in Seven West. The news comes after shareholders of Prime Media voted on the proposed merger between the Australian broadcasters, which was not approved by the requisite majorities. Seven West and Prime Media agreed to terminate the scheme implementation deed.
* The mobile payment alliance between NTT Docomo Inc., LINE Corp., KDDI Corp. and Merpay Ltd. has been terminated due to the pending merger of LINE with Yahoo Japan, which recently changed its name to Z Holdings Corp.
* IBM Japan Ltd. and the University of Tokyo will form the Japan - IBM Quantum Partnership to launch the Quantum Computing Initiative for Japan. The initiative aims to advance research in quantum algorithms, applications and software, as well as develop the first practical application of quantum computing.
* KT Corp. is expanding the livestreaming channels on its over-the-top service Seezn to 210 by adding about 100 near video-on-demand channels, ZDNet Korea reports. Users can watch these near VOD channels at no cost and without a subscription.
* LG U+ signed an agreement with the Seoul National University Institute for Industrial Mathematics and Crypto Lab to cooperate on developing future post-quantum cryptography, or PQC, technologies for security purposes, Financial News reports. The parties will jointly research PQC algorithms and network security in quantum computing, as well as develop security network configuration and equipment.
GREATER CHINA (MAINLAND CHINA, HONG KONG AND TAIWAN MARKETS)
* Chinese regulators criticized 41 apps including Tencent Holdings Ltd.'s messaging app QQ and SINA Corp.'s sports app for allegedly forcing users to hand over personal data, Reuters reports. Authorities are claiming that QQ made it hard to deactivate accounts and required users to authorize access to a broad range of data, while Sina Sports collected personal information without permission. The apps were ordered to make changes by Dec. 31 or face prosecution.
* Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. affiliate Ant Financial Services Group appointed Simon Hu CEO, replacing Eric Jing in the role, Reuters reports, citing a statement from the financial technology company. Hu will report to Jing, who will remain executive chairman of Ant Financial. Hu has been president of Ant Financial since November 2018. Cheng Li, chief technology officer of Ant Financial, will assume the same role at Alibaba.
* OPPO unveiled initiatives to build a new intelligent service ecosystem with developers and partners. Under the second version of its Gravity Plan developer support program, the company will allocate another 1 billion yuan, or about US$143 million, to support developers worldwide in 2020. The smartphone-maker also launched five system-level capability exposure engines to deliver better user experience, as well as the internet of things enablement plan to open its IoT service platform and audio connectivity protocol for partners.
* Tencent Games took down 32 games from its platform due to their incompatibility with the new system that aims to protect young players. The platform said such games would be terminated even if they were profitable.
* Baidu Video and Haokan Video dragged Jinri Toutiao to court for allegedly intervening in video search results by including their own videos as search words for advertisements. The plaintiffs are claiming 1 million yuan in compensation and a statement clarifying the wrongdoing.
* Xiaomi Corp. opened its second headquarters in Wuhan, Hubei Province, Hubei Daily reports. The new facility, which can house 10,000 employees, will also be a research and development center for artificial intelligence, internet of things, big data, software and internet entertainment.
INDIA AND SOUTH ASIA
* Indian state-owned telecom operator BSNL has been given an ultimatum by its gear suppliers Nokia Corp., ZTE Corp. and UTStarcom Holdings Corp. to clear dues by Dec. 31. According to The Economic Times (India), the vendors threatened to stop supporting BSNL's pan-India network if the telco fails to settle the dues worth over 30 billion rupees before the year ends.
* Thailand's National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission revealed that the February 2020 spectrum auction will include the 1800 MHz, 2600 MHz and 26 GHz bands, Prachachat reports. The regulator expects to garner about 3.7 billion baht from the auction.
* Private telecom operators in Thailand objected to a government policy allowing state enterprises CAT Telecom PCL and TOT PCL to join the upcoming 5G spectrum auction, Thairath reports. In response to the objection, the Minister of Digital Economy and Society said he would order CAT and TOT to stand down if private telcos are willing to provide free services in their place.
* Facebook Inc. launched Instagram Academy Thailand to help online vendors grow their business on the social media platform, Krungthep Turakij reports. The program targets young entrepreneurs who are still in university and those under the age of 35.
* Singapore-based internet provider MyRepublic Ltd. is working with Sony Corp.'s PlayStation for its first regional esports tournament series in 2020, Yahoo reports. Taking place from January to March 2020, the tournament will be open to participants from Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore.
AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND
* Stefan Knight will commence his CFO position at Spark New Zealand Ltd. on Dec. 20. He succeeds David Chalmers, who will become CFO of IOOF Holdings Ltd. Knight was also appointed a director of Spark Finance Ltd.
Analysts consider 5G race more marathon than sprint: Top U.S. carriers and phone-makers spent 2019 racing to deploy 5G mobility services and smartphones, but analysts say the new technology is still years away from achieving its full potential.
Wireless Investor: High regulatory fees stressing Indian telcos; prices to increase next year: Beleaguered with massive debt and losses, Indian mobile operators took matters into their own hands by raising voice and data prices by up to 47% to cool off their financial woes.
Nozomi Ibayashi, Myungran Ha, Emily Lai, Ed Eduard and Wil Hathaway contributed to this report.
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