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China cracks down on video spoofs; Reliance to acquire stake in Saavn

TOP NEWS

* China directed online video sites to ban video spoofs as part of an intensified crackdown on content deemed to violate core socialist values, Reuters reported, citing Xinhua News Agency. The ban applies to videos that "distort, mock or defame classical literary and art works," according to an "extra urgent" March 22 order from the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television quoted by Xinhua, effective immediately. Content makers and distributors that do not comply in due time will reportedly be shut down.

* Reliance Industries Ltd. is buying a stake in New York music-streaming service Saavn LLC, executing definitive agreements to merge the streaming service with its Jio Music app in a transaction worth more than US$1 billion. Reliance will invest up to US$100 million in the entity, with US$20 million to be invested upfront. Reliance is also acquiring a partial stake from the existing shareholders of Saavn for US$104 million.

* Uber Technologies Inc. could exit the Southeast Asian market this week with the sale of its local operations to regional rival GrabTaxi Holdings Pte. Ltd., Bloomberg News reported. The agreement, which could be formalized as early as March 26, would see Grab purchasing all of Uber's operations in Southeast Asia, with Uber taking on a 25%-30% stake in the rival.

JAPAN

* Yahoo Japan Corp. plans to acquire 40% of Japanese cryptocurrency exchange BitARG Exchange Tokyo, with an aim to launch its own exchange as soon as April 2019 based on the BitARG system, The Nikkei reports. Yahoo is in negotiations to invest in BitARG but no decision has been reached.

* Toshiba Corp. is unlikely to meet its March 31 fiscal year-end deadline for selling its flash memory unit as it has not yet obtained regulatory approval in China, Jiji Press reports, citing unidentified sources. Toshiba's deal to sell Toshiba Memory Corp. to a group led by U.S. private equity firm Bain Capital LP depends on clearing antitrust screenings by affected countries.

* Toshiba will create a chief digital officer role to drive digital transformation. The CDO will lead a new digital transformation strategy division beginning April 1.

* NEC Corp. is supplying KDDI Corp. with its 10 Gigabit Ethernet Passive Optical Network for KDDI's new 10 Gbps high-speed internet service.

SOUTH KOREA

* As planned, Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd.'s 50-to-1 stock split has been approved at the annual shareholders' meeting, SBS News reports. As a result, trading in the Samsung Group unit's shares will be halted for three days, possibly on April 30, May 2 and May 3. The dates are subject to change.

* Samsung Electronics also announced that it launched its mobile payment service Samsung Pay in Italy, the 21st country to have the service, Yonhap News Agency reports.

* South Korean law firm Hannuri Law will file a class-action lawsuit against Apple Inc. and Apple Korea Ltd. on March 29 over slowing down older iPhones, as planned, ET News reports. A total of 63,000 complainants are going to claim 200,000 South Korean won per person for damages, totaling 16.7 billion won.

* KT Corp. developed and commercialized a new solution to automatically calculate the amount of investment needed to build a network that involves multiple manufacturers based on a software-defined networking technology, Financial News reports.

* LoEn Entertainment Inc. officially changed its name to Kakao M and appointed its new CEO, Lee Je-wook, ZDNet Korea reports.

CHINA, HONG KONG AND TAIWAN

* CITIC Telecom International Holdings Ltd.'s CITIC Telecom International CPC Ltd. completed the name changes of 13 business entities acquired with Linx Telecommunications BV. The company also announced the appointment of James Halberstadt as managing director Europe, effective March 5.

* Line Corp. and Rakuten Inc. have consulted Taiwan's Financial Supervisory Commission about launching web-only banks on the island, the Taipei Times reports.

* U.S. electronics retailer Best Buy Co. Inc. is set to end its relationship with Chinese phone manufacturer Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd., Bloomberg News reported, citing a person with knowledge of the matter. The decision reportedly comes amid U.S. government concerns about Huawei's possible links to the Chinese government.

* In other Huawei news, Liang Hua will succeed Sun Yafang as chairman, Caijing reports. Founder Ren Zhengfei stepped down as vice chairman, but remained as CEO and board member.

* Walmart Inc. and Bu Bu Gao banned Alipay in their stores in southwest China, iFeng News reports. Walmart China and Bu Bu Gao are associated with Tencent Holdings Ltd., which sees the Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. unit as the biggest rival to WeChat Pay.

INDIA AND SOUTH ASIA

* Facebook Inc. and Alphabet Inc.-owned Google Inc. will compete with Reliance Jio and STAR India Pvt. Ltd.'s Hotstar for Indian cricket rights for the next five years, TNN reports. The Board of Control for Cricket in India postponed the e-auction of bilateral rights from March 27 to April 3.

* BSNL is allocating about 43 billion Indian rupees for network expansion and another 50 billion rupees to 60 billion rupees for government telecom projects, the Press Trust of India reports, citing a top official.

SOUTHEAST ASIA

* Indonesian telco infrastructure holding company PT Sarana Menara Nusantara Tbk, through subsidiary PT Profesional Telekomunikasi Indonesia, purchased another telco infrastructure company, PT Komet Infra Nusantara, from PT Nusantara Infrastructure Tbk for 1.4 trillion Indonesian rupiah.

* PT Mega Media Indonesia's Orange TV, a subscription-based satellite TV provider, entered into a strategic partnership with a Chinese TV channel, Guangxi TV, Bisnis reports. Orange TV will broadcast more than 140 titles from Guangxi TV contents starting April.

* Thailand's Council of State confirmed that the caretaker board of the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission can go ahead with planned auctions of 900MHz and 1800MHz spectrums before a new board is appointed, Manager reports. The previous board's six-year term expired in October 2017, and a replacement board is yet to be appointed.

* Thailand's State Enterprise Workers' Relations Confederation sent a joint letter to Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha urging him to intervene to prevent the creation of two new companies from state-owned TOT and CAT Telecom Public Co. Ltd., Manager reports. The union has already pledged to battle the spinoff plans in court if its protest fails.

* TV producer Zense Entertainment Co. will invest 700 million Thai baht this year in creating five new TV shows for digital TV stations and online media, the Bangkok Post reports. Zense said it plans to debut its own online channel and generate around 800 million baht in revenue this year.

AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND

* Australia-based BetaShares Global Sustainability Leaders Exchange Traded Fund decided to remove Facebook from the index and from the ETF as well. The Responsible Investment Committee of the fund cited the recent data breach and other previously identified issues as reasons.

FEATURED NEWS

Analysis: Meltdown, Spectre chip flaws expected to slow tech cycle, swell costs: While the exact cost of Meltdown and Spectre, major security flaws that could affect nearly every computer and device, seems incalculable, the problems likely will reverberate through the market and the innovation cycle for years to come.

FEATURED RESEARCH

Economics of Networks: Surcharges increasingly used by multichannel operators to boost video margins: There is no question that margins on video are slim and have been getting even slimmer in recent years.

Technology: 1 Gig take rates strong, industry plots course for broadband enhancements: Mediacom's surprising 1 Gbps take rates, the wait for high bandwidth consumer use cases, and tough-to-gauge network usage trends topped themes from the recent Cable Next-Gen Technologies and Strategies event.

Joji Sakurai, Myungran Ha, Frances Wang, 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.

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