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Sky, Discovery blackout looms; Mediawan offers €270M for Groupe AB

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Sky, Discovery blackout looms; Mediawan offers €270M for Groupe AB

TOP NEWS

* A Keep Discovery website is flashing a countdown for the remaining hours until Discovery Communications Inc.'s channels are pulled from Sky plc, TBI Vision reports. The Discovery channels may cease airing on Sky in the U.K. and in Germany on Feb. 1 if both companies fail to reach an agreement today.

* French special purpose acquisition company Mediawan has offered to acquire TV content distributor and aggregator Groupe AB for about €270 million to complete its initial business combination. Mediawan's shareholders are scheduled to vote on the proposed acquisition of 100% of the outstanding shares of Groupe AB on March 13, according to a Jan. 30 news release.

PAN-EUROPEAN

* European Commission Vice President Andrus Ansip urged both the European Parliament and EU member states to agree on wholesale roaming caps, in order to meet the targeted June 2017 deadline to end mobile roaming charges across the bloc, Reuters reports. The parliament wants the wholesale data cap to start at €4 per gigabyte, while member states are pushing for €8.50.

* Signed petitions in the U.K. Government and Parliament's website to prevent U.S. President Donald Trump from entering Britain soared following the president's announcement of the travel ban on Muslim countries, CNN reports.

UK AND IRELAND

* Vodafone Group Plc has confirmed media reports that it is in discussions to combine its Indian unit Vodafone India with rival operator Idea Cellular via an all-share deal. The British telco said that it is in talks with Idea Cellular's parent, Indian conglomerate Aditya Birla Group, but added that the talks may not lead to a deal.

* TalkTalk Telecom Group PLC is offering a promotion on broadband offerings to woo back its customers following its October 2015 data breach, The Register reports.

* Former BBC Worldwide Ltd. executive Riccardo Donato has joined A+E Networks U.K. as director of distribution and digital partnerships, Digital TV Europe reports, citing a company statement. In this role, Donato will oversee linear and nonlinear business development across A+E U.K. operating markets. BBC Worldwide is a unit of the British Broadcasting Corp.

* The U.K. Parliament's Culture, Media and Sport Committee launched an inquiry on the prevalence of fake news on social media and the Internet, according to a Jan. 30 news release. The committee intends to determine the impact of fake news to the public's views and how people in different demographics respond to such news.

* Former Channel 4 (UK) Commissioner Katie Boyd joined the Rare TV group-owned Screenchannel Television as the production company's creative director, TBI Vision reports.

* The CW (US) acquired British drama "Hooten & the Lady" from Sky's production and distribution arm Sky Vision, TBI Vision reports. The drama will air eight one-hour episodes.

GERMANY, SWITZERLAND AND AUSTRIA

* VZBV, a German consumer group, takes Facebook Inc.-owned WhatsApp Inc. to court over WhatsApp's policy regarding the collection and transferring of user data between the two platforms, Bloomberg News reports.

* German broadcaster Mitteldeutscher Rundfunk plans to unify its commercial activities this year, DWDL reports. So far, part of its commercial portfolio had been overseen by media companies DREFA Media Holdings and another by MDR Werbung GmbH.

* German media company Tele München Fernseh GmbH & Co KG, or TMG, acquired a stake in U.S. rights brokerage and production firm Storied Media Group, Mediabiz reports. Financial details were not disclosed.

* One of the CEOs of ProSiebenSat.1 Media SE unit 7Commerce, Daniel Raab, will be leaving and will be succeeded by Mark Spencer Klimmek, reports New Business.

* Jörg Nommensen, the director of sales and marketing and a member of the executive board of German commercial broadcaster SUPER RTL (DE), will leave the company, effective March 1, according to a press release.

FRANCE

* NextRadioTV and SFR Group, controlled by Altice NV, submitted an application before media regulator Conseil Supérieur de l'Audiovisuel for SFR to take full control of NextRadioTV, according to a news release. Alain Weill, CEO of SFR Media, heads NextRadioTV and SFR Presse, and manages all media business of the Altice Group.

* TF1 Group could regain the rights to broadcast Formula One races for the years 2018 through 2010, Univers Freebox reports, citing information posted on the Formula One website. The current contract between Vivendi SA-owned Canal Plus Group SA and Formula One Management expires at the end of 2017.

* Nokia Corp. and the Orange Group are to collaborate on the development of services around 5G technology, according to a news release. The companies will establish innovation platforms in France tapping into their R&D expertise and their respective partners to leverage ultra-low latency 5G using ultra-broadband, cloud RAN, massive MIMO, network slicing, energy efficiency and IoT applications.

* Bouygues Telecom will experiment with its first 5G location in March, Univers Freebox reports citing the weekly La Lettre en Expansion. The operator will experiment 5G in the town of Velizy in the outskirts of Paris next March, in partnership with Ericsson AB.

NETHERLANDS, BELGIUM AND LUXEMBOURG

* Dutch provider KPN NV will shortly be testing a new method whereby a fixed and mobile internet connection will be combined, together to achieve a higher internet speed in distant areas, reports Nu.nl. KPN will conduct the testing in April in the rural areas of Nijkerk.

* The editorial council of Telegraaf Media Group-owned De Telegraaf urged Talpa founder John De Mol to clarify his plans for TMG, reports Villamedia, following Talpa's recent offer for TMG. Earlier, Belgian media company Mediahuis put forward a lower bid, and De Telegraaf’s editorial council wrote in the letter to De Mol that a deal with Mediahuis would better serve TMG's interests.

* Dutch mobile provider hollandsnieuwe started offering its customers access to Vodafone Netherlands' 4G network, according to GSMHelpdesk.

NORDIC COUNTRIES

* TDC A/S said that it has become the first Danish operator to test 5G technology, reaching speeds above 70 Gbps. TDC claims that this is the highest speed recorded in Europe, and more than 1,000 times the speed of the company's present 4G network.

* Ericsson, Telstra Corp. Ltd., Qualcomm Inc. and NetGear Inc. are launching the world's first commercial Gigabit LTE network and device, Ericsson said. The service offers download speeds of 1 Gbps and has launched in some parts of Telstra's network in Australia.

* Danish media house JP/Politikens Hus is closing down nine of its local newspapers in Sweden, Finans reports. It has also sold one local paper and one business paper.

SOUTHERN EUROPE

* Mediaset SpA's majority shareholder Fininvest denied rumors of a secret deal with Vivendi regarding Mediaset Premium, Telecompaper reports, citing a company statement. Vivendi and Fininvest are said to be considering forming a holding company, which could also involve Orange SA and Italian state lender Cassa Depositi e Prestiti, according to unnamed sources mentioned by Il Fatto Quotidiano.

* Sky unit Sky Italia SRL launched Vision Distribution, a new theatrical distribution outfit, in partnership with five Italian production companies, Variety reports. Vision Distribution, which is also composed of producers Cattleya, Lucisano Group, Wildside, Palomar and Indiana Production, will be led by former Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. Italy managing director Nicola Maccanico. Warner Bros. is a unit of Time Warner Inc.

* The Spanish unit of Italian telematics provider Viasat Group took a majority stake in Madrid-based company MobileFleet for an undisclosed price, Telecompaper reports. MobileFleet offers fleet monitoring, vehicle security and GPS services to customers in Spain and Latin America.

* Vodafone España SAU and the government of Spain's Andalucia region partnered to launch the Minerva public-private program, which urges local startups to submit ideas for ICT projects, Telecompaper reports. The program will accept proposal submissions until March 7.

EASTERN EUROPE

* The Croatian Competition Authority greenlit Telekom Austria Group's acquisition of Croatian alternative fixed telco Metronet Telekomunikacije, Broadband TV News reports. The América Móvil SAB de CV unit is undertaking the deal via its subsidiary Vipnet.

* Telenor ASA unit Telenor Hungary is found to have breached EU rules on net neutrality, according to Hungarian communications watchdog NMHH, Telecompaper reports. The NMHH reportedly said that the end users will more likely favor Telenor Hungary's apps and services over those of its competitors, following an unjustified distinction between various content.

* Mobile TeleSystems PJSC dropped Viacom Inc. channels MTV HD, Paramount Comedy, Nickelodeon and Nick Jr., as well as Russia's Inva Media channel from its satellite TV lineup, Telecompaper reports.

* Poland's Law and Justice party President Jaroslaw Kaczynski is pushing to limit foreign ownership of local media entities, among other regulatory measures, Broadband TV News reports, citing Press.pl and Wirtualne Media. Kaczynski reportedly said that new legislation on receiver license fees is likely to be adopted soon.

FEATURED NEWS

M&A Replay: European deals through Jan. 30: Vodafone, Sky, Liberty Media: S&P Global Market Intelligence provides a wrap-up of European media and communications deal announcements, completions and updates from Jan. 23 to Jan. 30.

FEATURED RESEARCH

Broadcast Investor: Top 50 TV station groups by US TVHH including the UHF discount: With the deregulation prospects of a Republican-led FCC and new Chairperson Ajit Pai, SNL Kagan has updated its analysis for the top 50 commercial TV station group owners if the UHF discount was reinstated by the FCC.

Anne Freier, Sylvia Edwards Davis, Charlotte van Hek and Esben Svendsen contributed to this report. The Daily Dose has an editorial deadline of 7 a.m. London time. Some external links may require a subscription.