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Vivendi to boost Mediaset stake; Hubert Burda buying Radio Times

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Vivendi to boost Mediaset stake; Hubert Burda buying Radio Times

TOP NEWS

* Vivendi SA's management board decided to increase its investment in Mediaset SpA within the limits of 30% of the share capital and voting rights. In a statement, the group noted that this is in line with its intention to develop its activities in southern Europe, as well as its strategic ambitions.

* German media group Hubert Burda is about to buy Immediate Media, which publishes U.K. TV listings magazine Radio Times for £260 million, Sky News reports, citing media industry sources. Burda will reportedly operate Immediate as a standalone business.

UK AND IRELAND

* 21st Century Fox Inc. chairman Rupert Murdoch said he never asked any prime minister for any favors amid his company's proposed takeover of British pay TV giant Sky plc, according to a letter he wrote to London's The Guardian. The letter was in response to an Evening Standard report in February where Murdoch allegedly said that Downing Street does what he says as opposed to Brussels, a quote which has since been used by several publications.

* Eir appointed three new telco veterans to its board of directors as the company inches towards a potential public flotation, London's Financial Times reports. Joining Eir's board are former TalkTalk Telecom Group PLC CEO David Goldie, former British Telecom wholesale division chief Paul Reynolds and former CEO of Vodafone Group Plc's ONO, Rosalia Portela De Pablo.

* British telecoms watchdog Ofcom is seeking consultation on whether its approach in managing the 410 MHz to 470 MHz bands would meet the needs of users. As some band users are now experiencing a spectrum shortage, the British regulator is looking to make changes to free up capacity.

GERMANY, SWITZERLAND AND AUSTRIA

* Vogue Deutschland is diversifying its digital offerings and launched a freemail service. The offering comprises the domain voguemail.de, a webmail portal featuring fashion inspirations as well as editorial news and fashion content.

* Vodafone has become the German resale partner of Alibaba Cloud, a cloud computing firm that is part of China's Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. Vodafone is offering corporate clients flexible information technology services from the public cloud ranging from virtual storage and computing power to dynamic server resources for e-commerce.

* 1&1 Versatel announced it is broadening its glass fiber network by more than 100 km of available capacity in the city of Duesseldorf. Some 2,500 companies can be directly connected to the network, which can facilitate speeds of 100 Gbps.

* WirtschaftsWoche editor-in-chief Miriam Meckel will become publisher of the business magazine on April 1, 2017, taking responsibility for the strategic development of the brand. Beat Balzli, deputy editor-in-chief at WeltN24-Gruppe, will take over as editor-in-chief at WirtschaftsWoche.

* The German government is awaiting the results of an external investigation into online fake news before moving ahead with a specific law, dpa reports. A government spokesperson told the news agency that the results of the investigation were due in early 2017 and that those who continue to act slowly in removing such content would face legal consequences.

FRANCE

* Orange SA CEO Stéphane Richard said he was not concerned after IMF managing director Christine Lagarde was found guilty of negligence, Reuters reports. Richard was chief of staff for the former minister of finance during the period related to the charges, and Lagarde told the court she had "relied" on him for key decisions.

* French telecom regulator ARCEP submitted a proposal to help mobile users compare telecom operators' coverage. It would oblige all telecom operators to publish online within six months an open data map that would outline areas of very good, good and limited mobile coverage for both voice and SMS services.

* France's independent advisory council on digital development, CNNum, will consider how to create a tool that can track and record users' negative experiences with algorithms, Le Figaro reports. At the same time, public research institute INRIA has been tasked with coordinating the launch of a scientific platform exploring the ethical issues of algorithms.

* The Euro 2020 will be broadcast by Belgian public broadcaster RTBF, Le Soir reports. Matches for the 60th anniversary of the first edition of the European Championship will be held in 13 European cities, including Brussels. By 2022, the RTBF will broadcast all qualifying and final matches for the 2018 World Cup in Russia, the Euro 2020 and the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

* American Tower Corp. is partnering with PGGM to buy wireless tower operator FPS Towers in France via their ATC Europe joint venture, according to a news release. The equity-and-debt deal is expected to be completed during the first quarter of 2017.

NETHERLANDS, BELGIUM AND LUXEMBOURG

* Dutch consumer association Consumentenbond criticized the increasingly complex terms of use for smart TVs, Nu.nl reports. According to Consumentenbond, some smart TVs cannot be used before the user has read and signed about 100 pages of legal details, user conditions and privacy information.

* Privacy organizations Bits of Freedom and Privacy First approved of attempts by Dutch intelligence service AIVD to circumvent messaging application encryption for counterterrorism purposes, Tweakers reports. The organizations stated that intercepting messages is an important task of the AIVD and should not be hindered by encryption when lives are at stake.

* The Luxembourg government announced a partnership between tech center Technoport and Vodafone, Telecompaper reports. As a part of this cooperation, Vodafone will support a Joint Innovation Center which will be built at Technoport in 2017.

NORDIC COUNTRIES

* Chinese mobile operating systems company Thunder Software Technology Co. Ltd. is acquiring Finnish automotive software firm Rightware for €64 million, Reuters reports. Under the deal, Rightware will remain an independent company with its current management after the acquisition, which is expected to close in early 2017.

* Energy firm SE, parent of Danish cable TV operator Stofa A/S, struck a deal to acquire the Danish arm of Boxer TV from Sweden's Teracom, Broadband TV News reports. Boxer TV in Denmark offers pay TV services via digital terrestrial television.

* Telia Co. AB's Telia Denmark A/S carried out upgrades to its mobile network at over 1,400 sites across the country in 2016, Telia said in a statement. The rapid rise in demand among customers using mobile data on smart phones placed more pressure on network capacity. Mobile data use on Telia Denmark’s network has risen by 80% in Denmark in the last 12 months.

* Danske Bank will establish a special unit within the bank dedicated to supporting digital technology entrepreneurs, FinansWatch.dk reports. The new unit, which is due to launch in spring 2017, will operate as Danske Bank Growth. It will provide product and development loans to startup digital tech enterprises.

* App development firms iZettle Ab and TrueCaller Ab criticized a Swedish government plan to tax staff stock options, Di Digital reports. The plan would cut stock option taxes for tech firms with over 50 staff and net sales above 50 million Swedish kronor. iZettle and TrueCaller are deemed too small to qualify for tax relief.

* Nokia Corp. will deliver its Nokia NetGuard Endpoint security solution to Zain KSA, a Saudi Arabia-based mobile services provider, Nokia said in a statement. Zain KSA will use NetGuard Endpoint to protect the telco's subscribers from malware. Zain is the first operator in Saudi Arabia to deploy an anti-malware solution.

* Altibox A/S, the Norway-based Internet, broadband and TV services provider, has named Thomas Skjelbred as its new CEO, reports newspaper Stavanger Aftenblad. Skjelbred will commence his new role in January 2017. Skjelbred is Altibox's current technical director, and his management career has been spent in the telecom sector.

SOUTHERN EUROPE

* Sony Corp.'s Sony Pictures Entertainment Inc. purchased a stake of about 5% in Italian video-on-demand platform Chili SpA for about €3 million, Bloomberg News reports, citing people familiar with the matter. Chili's other investors reportedly include Paramount Pictures Corp., Viacom Inc. and Time Warner Inc.'s Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc., which own about 14% of the platform.

* Telefónica SA CEO Jose Maria Alvarez-Pallete bought more than 615,000 ordinary company shares in the Spanish telco for €5.3 million, Telecompaper reports, citing El Economista.

* Microsoft Corp.'s Portuguese unit named Paula Panarra as its new director general, Telecompaper reports. Panarra will take over from Joao Couto, who will become marketing and operation lead for the tech giant's German business.

* Maltese telco company Go will launch 4G+/LTE-A mobile internet in the country following a successful laboratory demonstration of the service, Telecompaper reports.

EASTERN EUROPE

* Scripps Networks Interactive Inc. unit TVN SA locked in a deal with NBCUniversal International Distribution to access Universal Pictures’ 2015 films as well as NBCUniversal's TV series, Advanced Television reports. NBCUniversal International Distribution is a unit of Comcast Corp.'s NBCUniversal Media LLC.

* Mobile virtual network operator Globaltel launched in Serbia through the network infrastructure of Vip mobile, Telecompaper reports.

* Terrestrial reception of Telewizja Polska SA has been interrupted in all of southern and most of western Poland, Broadband TV News reports. The interruption began Dec. 17, and the broadcaster continues to seek feedback from viewers for any experienced issues.

* Pay TV operator Viasat World inked content deals with Comcast Corp.'s NBCUniversal Media LLC and Sony Pictures, Broadband TV News reports. The deal with NBCUniversal, which begins January 2017, covers several Hollywood series that will be shown in Russia, Ukraine and CIS states, while the agreement with Sony Pictures includes 50 titles to be aired in Central Europe.

* Slovak Telekom could roll out its direct-to-home platform Magio Sat in the Czech Republic in the spring of 2017, Broadband TV News reports, citing Zive. Deutsche Telekom AG owns Slovak Telekom.

FEATURED NEWS

VR Focus: Market leaders reach high, differ on strategies: Samsung, Sony and HTC have each taken a different approach with their VR headset releases over the past year, to varying degrees of success.

FEATURED RESEARCH

Best of SNL: SNL Kagan research and analysis, editor's picks: Presenting the editor's top picks from SNL Kagan's exclusive research and analysis for the week ended Dec. 16.

Phoebe Magdirila, Amanda Kelly, Stefanie Eschenbacher, Koen Pijnappels and Gerard O'Dwyer contributed to this report. The Daily Dose has an editorial deadline of 7 a.m. London time. Some external links may require a subscription.