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HarperCollins to fully own Harlequin France; Altice's Drahi named in Panama leak

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HarperCollins to fully own Harlequin France; Altice's Drahi named in Panama leak

MIPTV in Cannes is in fullswing: SNL Kagan reporter Vinjeru Mkandawire brings you updates and reportsfrom the world's largest annual content event. You can follow her via Twitter here or here. Daily blogs, conference chattersand updates can be found on our site.

TOP NEWS

*HarperCollins bought out Hachette Livre SA's 50% stake in Harlequin France foran undisclosed amount, reportsLes Echos. The unit will now fully ownHarlequin France, and replace it with a new division called HarperCollinsFrance. HarperCollins France will continue to publish romance titles under theHarlequin imprint, while expanding its commercial trade publishing with titlesfrom HarperCollins as well as local authors.

*Patrick Drahi, founder and controlling shareholder of French telecom , has been named in theso-called Panama Papers investigation into offshore companies, Le Figaro reports.Altice reportedly confirmedthat Drahi's name was cited in the papers. The company said it used the lawfirm between 2008 and 2010 for incidental and confidential transactions under"perfectly legal" conditions. Obtained from an anonymous source, theinvestigation represents a leak of 11.5 million files from the database ofoffshore law firm Mossack Fonseca.

*KPN NV subsidiary YesTelecom has acquired the independent Dutch provider Dekatel to expand into thebusiness market, reportsDe Telegraaf. Financial details werenot disclosed. Yes Telecom says the acquisition strengthens its position amongmedium-sized enterprises. The 20-year-old Dekatel provides fixed and mobiletelecommunications services. KPN also obtained all the shares of IT-providerRoutIT it dose not yet own, HetFinancieele Dagblad reports.

PAN-EUROPEAN

* EUCompetition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said that the European Commission'sprobe into AppleInc.'s tax deals in Ireland would take some more time due to thelarge amount of data involved, Reuters reports.Vestager said that she asked Ireland to provide more details on the taxarrangements, following the EC's accusations that Ireland allowed Apple toshelter profits from tax collectors in return for keeping jobs in the country.Vestager added that she asked British tax officials to supply details on theirback tax deal with 's

*Virtual reality TV will require greater levels of investment if it wishes toavoid the fate of 3D technology, industry experts at MIPDoc, a pre-MIPTV event inthe South of France. VR is still in the early stages of development as a TVmedium and its commercial success has yet to transpire. As a result, greatercollaboration across industries as well as skill sets will be required to fillthe technical gap in VR TV, the panelists agreed.

*Kids' content maker Silvergate Media inkedvarious broadcast deals for its undersea preschool adventure format"Octonauts." The show has been picked up by Karusel in Russia, SVT inSweden and Walt DisneyCo.'s Disney Junior for Spain and Portugal. "Octonauts"airs in over 100 countries around the world, and is currently in its fourthseason.

UK AND IRELAND

*U.K. theater chain Curzon is planning to launch a curated subscriptionvideo-on-demand offering in the next 18 months, Digital TV Europe reports,citing an interview with Curzon Home Cinema director Philip Mordecai. Mordecaisaid that the SVOD service will run alongside its existing transactional VODstore Curzon Home Cinema and would feature around 100-200 film titles. He saidthat the service will be available as a "value-add solution" forCurzon customers and would be attributed to various tiers of Curzon cinemasmembership. Mordecai also revealed that the company plans to expand outside ofthe U.K. and Ireland.

*Netflix secured global subscription video-on-demand rights to ITV's crime dramaseries "Marcella," TBI Visionreports.The streaming platform bought the rights via an agreement with U.K.-basedCineflix Rights, the distribution arm of Cineflix Media that co-produced theshow with production company Buccaneer Media. Netflix will make the entireseries available worldwide from July 1. "Marcella" follows the storyof a troubled detective who is investigating a serial killer. The crime dramapremiered on ITV's flagship channel on April 4.

*British Broadcasting Corp.Natural History Unit chief Wendy Darke is leaving the company, Broadcast reports,citing an internal email from BBC Director of Television Mark Linsey. Darkeworked at the NHU for 25 years, overseeing shows like "FrozenPlanet," "Africa," "Life Story" and "Planet EarthLive." Executive producer Julian Hector will reportedly fill in for Darkeuntil a replacement is appointed. Meanwhile, Polly Hill could also quit herpost as BBC drama controller and jump ship to to replace Steve November, whorecently resigned as ITV's director of drama, according to a separate Broadcast report.

*Irish broadband operator Imagine is making a play for the government's €1.5billion rural broadband contract, in partnership with Macquarie Capital, theinvestment arm of Australian bank Macquarie, and other international investors,The Irish Times reports,citing an Imagine spokesman. Two subsidized contracts from the Irish governmentto connect 750,000 homes to high-speed broadband are reportedly up for grabs.Other interested parties for the project include Eircom Group plc, Gigabit Fibre, Enet and SIRO, a jointventure between the ESB Group and Vodafone Group Plc.  

GERMANY, SWITZERLAND ANDAUSTRIA

*German cable network provider Unitymedia, together with leading media firms announcedthe termination of analog TV services mid-2017. Affected households will haveto purchase new TVs or digital receivers, reportsDer Westen. The deactivation of services will affect 12.8 million householdswith cable networks in Nordrhein Westfalen, Hessen and Baden-Württemberg.Digital antenna services DVB-T2 will be available from May 31.

*German commercial broadcaster RTLGroup is considering the rollout of a video-on-demand service.Co-CEO Guillaume de Posch toldHandelsblatt that while pay TV wasnot a core business, the company would test if it could be valuable to launch aEuropean paid platform in the coming two to three years.

*Viacom Inc.'sViacom International MediaNetworks is sorting through its international structure, reportsDWDL. VIMN Northern Europe, whichincludes Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Poland, Norway, Finland, Denmark,Netherlands as well as Luxembourg, will be dissolved. The company's Germanbusiness will become part of the VIMN Southern Europe cluster.

*VICE Media Inc.appointed Laura Himmelreich as new editor-in-chief of its German edition, reportsMeedia. The reporter previouslyreceived the Hansel-Mieth award and the Deutschen Reporterpreis 2013 for herjournalistic work. She will be managing the area politics and society at VICEand help grow the site's editorial team to 12 full-time members in 2016.

FRANCE

*StudioCanal, a unit of VivendiSA subsidiary CanalPlus SA, is investing in several independent production companiesin a bid to accelerate its development in TV production. Under the deals,StudioCanal is acquiring a 20% stake in Benedict Cumberbatch's SunnyMarch TV, a20% stake in "Atlantis" producer Urban Myth Films, both based inLondon, and a 33% stake in Spain-based Bambú Producciones, which is producingNetflix Inc.'s firstSpanish series. Eachdeal includes distribution agreement, the company said in a news .

*TF1 Group willbroadcast horse racing in France starting on April 5, the broadcaster said in astatement.The French TV channel said it will broadcast horse racing under a three-yeardeal in association with France Galop and LeTROT. In addition to live coverageof daily events, TFI will televise the Qatar Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe and theOpodo Prix d'Amérique, as well as a short weekly racing show. Viewers will beable to access exclusive free-to-air sports news content on LCI, on theinternet and on TF1.

*TF1's executive vice-president of news, Catherine Nayl, toldLe Figaro the French TV channel isaiming for 1% of audience reach in three to four years with its 24-hour TV newschannel LCI. The channel begins broadcasting for free in France on April 5.

*94% of French journalists refuse to accept the name France Info for the newpublic news channel to be launched on Sept. 1, reportsUnivers Freebox. In an open letter to Delphine Ernotte, the president of FranceTélévisions, representatives said that by taking on the name of an existingradio station, described by a  newsdirector as an obsolete brand, would not only create confusion, it would turnoff new audiences.

*French telecom Orange will continue to look for opportunities to consolidateand enter new markets in Europe, as well as to grow in Africa and the MiddleEast, reportsReuters. After talks to buy Bouygues Telecom collapsed, CEO Stéphane Richard saidthe merger would have made things easier, but confirmed Orange would not changeits strategy in its domestic market.

NETHERLANDS, BELGIUM, ANDLUXEMBOURG

*Customers of Deutsche TelekomAG's T-Mobile Netherlands are now allowed limited Internet for freein other EU countries, news site NU reports.Customers with a subscription can consume each month between 50 MB and 250 MBof mobile Internet in other European countries, without having to pay a roamingcharge. On April 30, new European rules take effect, reducing the maximumroaming charges. This is done in preparation for the complete abolition ofroaming charges in 2017.

*The Nederlandse Energie Maatschappij, or NLE, plans to offer Internet,television and telephone to its customers, in addition to electricity and gas, Het Financieele Dagblad reports.The Dutch energy provider expects households to become largely self-sufficientin energy in five to 10 years. The company's revenue model will no longer bebased on delivering energy, CEO Harald Swinkels reportedly said. Swinkels aimsat a market share in triple play of 10%.

*KPN saidthat it will end its storage service Up from Aug. 1. From mid-May customerswill no longer be able to upload new files to Up and from August existing fileswill no longer be accessible. All payments for the service will stop from April1. KPN gave no reason for ending the service.

NORDIC COUNTRIES

* The CEO of 'sDiscovery Networks International, JB Perette, is taking charge of the channelsin Northern Europe on an interim basis, following the departure of DiscoveryNetworks Northern Europe Managing Director Dee Forbes, Mediawatch reports. COODominic Coles in Discovery Networks Denmark will handle the daily running ofthe operation in the Nordic countries, according to the report.

*The Norwegian investment company Ferd denies that there is any basis for claimsfrom rapper Jay-Z after he bought Norwegian music streaming service Tidal, Dagens Næringsliv reports.Jay-Z claims that his company Project Panther Bidco paid too much when itbought Tidal in 2015. The company accuses Ferd, media group , and the other sellersof serious misrepresentations and systematic errors, and has notified them thata major claim is coming.

*Swedish lead generation company Catena Media is acquiring website AskGamblers.com,Swedish tech news site DI Digital reports.With a price of €15 million, the deal is the biggest in Catena's history. It isthe company's third acquisition in 2016. Catena Media's business model is togenerate traffic for their clients, by channeling Internet surfers to variouscasino sites.

SOUTHERN EUROPE

*Italian telecom regulator AgCom blocked Telecom Italia SpA's plan to impose a 300% price hike onthe price of basic landline calls to Italian fixed and mobile numbers,Telecompaper reports.AgCom reportedly said that Telecom Italia did not consider general economicconditions or the purchasing power of Italians in enforcing the price increase.The hike, which was set to take effect April 1, was first announced by theItalian operator in February.

*Telecom Italia's global services arm TI Sparkle struck a multiservicepoint-of-presence agreement with Reliance Communications Ltd. unit Global Cloud Xchange,according to a news release.The peering deal will allow GCX to connect to TI Sparkle's Sicily Hub inPalermo, in order to provide low latency Internet connectivity across Africa,the Mediterranean and emerging markets.

EASTERN EUROPE

*Telenor ASA is intalks with potential buyers to sell its $2.42 billion stake in , Telecompaper reports.CEO Sigve Brekke reportedly said that the Norwegian telco wants to conduct asale soon, but declined to name the possible buyers. Previous reports indicatedthat CK Hutchison Holdings Ltd. is in negotiations to acquire Telenor's stake in VimpelCom.

*Ukrainian cable operator Volia added AMC Networks Inc.'s AMC channel to its platform, DigitalTV Europe reports.AMC will be available on all digital packages offered by the operator. Showsincluding "Breaking Bad," "Fear the Walking Dead" and"Halt and Catch Fire," will be available to Volia's subscribers inthe Ukrainian language.

*Romania's Competition Council launched a probe into 's possible abuse of adominant market position, Telecompaper reports.The probe is in response to concerns about a potential discrimination by theOrange unit against companiesactive in the SMS payments and advertising markets. As part of the inquiry, theregulator conducted unannounced inspections at the headquarters of OrangeRomania and of some local SMS payment aggregators.

*Orange Polskaannounced nominees for six vacancies on its supervisory board, Telecompaper reports.The Polish operator proposed new terms for current members Jean-Marie Culpin,Eric Debroeck, Gervais Pellissier, Marc Ricau and Maciej Witucki. Meanwhile,academician Michal Kleiber is proposed as a new board member. The candidatesare expected to fill up the vacant board seats at Orange Polska's annualgeneral assembly on April 12.

FEATURED NEWS

: Pricing disputes continue tohamper YES Network and SportsNet LA in their pursuits to gain greaterdistribution for their respective telecasts of New York Yankees' and LosAngeles Dodgers' games.

: The company's latest update creates broader appeal to itsusers, further positioning it to compete with Facebook's suite of messagingapps.

: FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said the agency does not plan toinvestigate Netflix's throttling of the video quality of its streaming servicefor AT&T and Verizon's wireless customers, while Lions Gate and Kevin Harthave joined forces to launch a new video-on-demand service, called Laugh OutLoud.

: Virtual reality is being toutedas the next major frontier for the TV industry. However, VR TV will requiregreater levels of investment in order to avoid the fate of 3D technology,according to panelists at pre-MIPTV event MIPDoc in Cannes, France.

: SNL Kagan provides a wrap-up of media and communications dealannouncements and completions from March 28 to April 1.

: SNL Kagan provides a wrap-up ofEuropean media and communications deal announcements, completions and updatesfrom March 21 to April 1.

: AMC Entertainment positions itself as the largest filmexhibitor in the world after acquiring Carmike Cinemas in March. The TV networksector activity continues with the third deal in as many months.

FEATURED RESEARCH

:Snapchat's value per active user of $190.48 ranks high compared to that of itsmobile media counterparts, according to SNL Kagan estimates.

: The top 10 most widelydistributed cable networks all shed subscribers on a year-over-year basis inFebruary at an average decline of 2.5%, according to Nielsen universe estimates.

: The CBSover-the-top service continued its affiliate expansion by signing more carriagedeals, which now total 39 different station groups streaming live in 132markets.

Amanda Kelly, Anne Freier,Kees Pijnappels and Esben Svendsen contributed to this report. The Daily Dosehas an editorial deadline of 7 a.m. London time. Some external links mayrequire a subscription.