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Banijay in talks to buy Endemol Shine; Comcast to further hike Sky stake

TOP NEWS

* French production company Banijay Group is in advanced discussions to buy Endemol Shine Group Ltd., the Netherlands-based TV production giant behind "MasterChef," "Black Mirror" and reality TV show "Big Brother," according to Variety. Banijay is controlled by Stéphane Courbit's LOV Group and De Agostini SpA's DeA Communications. Vivendi SA also owns a stake in Banijay.

* Comcast Corp. unit Comcast Bidco Ltd. agreed to acquire the about 39.12% of Sky PLC shares held by 21st Century Fox Inc. or its affiliates. The transaction, which is expected to be completed Oct. 9, will bring Comcast's Sky ownership to about 75%, according to a statement.

PAN-EUROPEAN

* The European Parliament has adopted an EU law disallowing national rules that will require storing of nonpersonal data in any member state. Exemptions will only be allowed if it concerns public security, while other cases will have to be communicated with the European Commission and published online.

UK AND IRELAND

* Banijay Group-owned production company Fizz has struck a deal with Nice One Productions, a comedy entertainment producer based in Belfast, Northern Ireland, to co-develop and co-produce formats for local and national broadcasters.

* Telefónica O2 UK Ltd. revealed that its network suffered an outage Oct. 4. The Telefónica SA unit said the outage was fixed within 40 minutes, although some customers might have still experienced intermittent network issues.

* London-headquartered telecom network company Colt Technology Services plans to expand its Dublin fiber network, with plans to deploy 150 kilometers of new cable to meet digital demands in the area, Dublin's Irish Independent reports.

* Economist and former journalist Frances Cairncross, who heads a British government inquiry into the funding of high-quality journalism in the country, is set to visit the offices of online outlet HuffPost and The Washington Post to gather information on the financial pressures faced by publishers and newsrooms amid the rise of online media, London's The Daily Telegraph reports.

GERMANY, SWITZERLAND AND AUSTRIA

* Deutsche Telekom AG has launched a pilot project to better plan its fiber-to-the-home rollout by using artificial intelligence. The software was developed with the Fraunhofer FPI research institute.

* Sky Deutschland GmbH has acquired the broadcast rights for the English Premier League for three seasons, from 2019-2020 until 2021-2022. The Sky unit will have exclusive live broadcasting rights in Germany and Austria, and the German-speaking parts of Switzerland, Luxembourg and Liechtenstein. Financial details of the contract were not disclosed.

* Swiss telco Sunrise Communications Group AG launched its mobile service management platform to help business customers manage their mobile subscriptions, add options, activate or deactivate SIM cards, and order smartphones and accessories. The system can either be managed by a central company administrator or by all employees individually.

FRANCE

* JCDecaux SA has received approval from the New Zealand Overseas Investment Office to acquire Australian outdoor advertising company APN Outdoor Group Ltd. The transaction remains subject to certain approvals, such as from APN Outdoor's shareholders.

* Agence France Presse SA CEO Fabrice Fries said the company will gradually reduce 5% of its staff in an effort to break even in 2021, Les Echos reports. The measure aims to contribute to the goal of reducing the agency's costs by a total of €16.5 million in 2023, including €14 million in personnel costs.

* La Tribune President Jean-Christophe Tortora acquired a majority stake in economy publication Acteurs de l'Economie for an undisclosed amount, the French weekly reported. The transaction is part of La Tribune's strategy to strengthen its presence throughout France via global/local development.

NETHERLANDS, BELGIUM AND LUXEMBOURG

* VodafoneZiggo increased the bandwidth of a portion of its mobile network, by enabling simultaneous usage of different frequency bands and 4x4 MIMO. The network provider said download speeds of over 1 Gbps are now theoretically possible.

* KPN NV completed a pilot with a 5G application for precision agriculture on a farm in the Dutch province of Drenthe, Tweakers reports. By sending real-time drone footage to a agricultural machine using carrier aggregation, the process was reportedly executed with significantly higher efficiency.

* Cable provider Caiway has no short-term plans to abolish analog TV in its entire service area, Media Magazine reports. The Delta Fiber Nederland unit reportedly stopped providing analog TV in most parts of its service area, but a few exceptions remain.

* RTL Nederland and Qmusic announced a partnership on branded content, effective Jan. 1, 2019. The cooperation is aimed at increasing the commercial strength of both parties and providing better service to advertisers.

* Dutch local broadcaster Lokale Omroep Echt-Susteren decided to pull the plug due to its financial issues, De Limburger reports. The station earlier asked for a one-time subsidy of €60,000 to prevent bankruptcy, but this request was denied by the local government.

NORDIC COUNTRIES

* Spotify AB founders Daniel Ek and Martin Lorentzon are selling shares in the streaming company for a total of more than 2 billion Swedish kronor this year, Di Digital reports, citing information from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Ek, who is also CEO, has already sold shares for 560 million kronor in 2018, and is planning to sell for a further 600 million more. Lorentzon has sold shares for 530 million kronor, and is planning to sell for additional shares worth 288 million kronor.

* The head of Twitter Inc.'s Nordic business, Faje Gani, has left the company, Breakit reports. Gani said he has been replaced by internal recruit Kristoffer Ullenius.

* Nordic Entertainment Group AB, or NENT, aims to gain market share in the streaming segment in the Nordics once it becomes a publicly listed company, Reuters reports, quoting CEO Anders Jensen. Modern Times Group AB's board has earlier agreed to move NENT into a separate entity.

SOUTHERN EUROPE

* Apax Partners LLP has agreed to sell Cabolink, the holding company of Portuguese operators Nowo and Oni, to KKR & Co. for an undisclosed amount, Advanced Television reports. The parties are awaiting approval from Portugal's Competition Authority to push through with the proposed transaction.

* Red Arrow Studios-owned production company Karga Seven Pictures Inc. has selected Ömer Özgüner to become CEO of its production business in Turkey, TBI Vision reports. Karga Seven Pictures Turkey is working on its new slate of content and is planning to acquire a number of international series.

EASTERN EUROPE

* DHX Media Ltd.-owned CPLG agreed to buy a 49% stake in Pullman Licensing LLC, a Russian licensing agency owned by Igor Kuleshov, president and owner of Gulliver Holdings. CPLG and Pullman are expected to team up for overall management and operations of the new venture, to be called CPLG Pullman. The new venture will represent certain of CPLG's portfolio, including "Line Friends" and "Archie Comics."

* Telekom Srbija ad Beograd has bid to acquire Cosmote SA-owned Telekom Albania sh.a. for about €61 million, Telecompaper reports, citing Danas.rs. The Serbian operator reportedly submitted the highest bid compared to those from other participants, which include Albanian operator Eagle Mobile sh.a., the Albania Telecom Invest fund and an unnamed Greek investor, according to sources.

* Telekom Srbija has also acquired Bosnian cable operator Blicnet doo from Telekom Slovenije dd for an undisclosed amount, Broadband TV News reports, citing Capital.ba. The transaction has been executed through the Serbian operator's unit Telekom Srpska.

* Russia's State Radio Frequency Commission will release a decision on Oct. 31 on how to allocate bands for 5G testing, Telecompaper reports, citing Tdaily.ru. The Russian regulator eyes to allocate bands in the 3.4 GHz-4.2 GHz, 4.4 GHz-4.99 GHz and 24.25 GHz-29.5 GHz frequencies, to VEON's Beeline, Mobile TeleSystems PJSC and Tele2 Russia.

* Equinix Inc. announced it will open its second Bulgarian International Business Exchange data center during the first quarter of 2019. The facility, which will be called SO2, will be in Sofia, Bulgaria, and is anticipated to cost about $19 million.

* Sistema Finance, the unit of Russian holding company Sistema PJSFC, sold about 9.34 million ordinary shares in Mobile TeleSystems under a buy-back program, Telecompaper reports. The transaction amounted to a total of about 2.47 billion Russian rubles.

FEATURED NEWS

Hires and Fires Europe: Vodafone appoints CEO for Europe; RAI names new chairman: S&P Global Market Intelligence presents a biweekly rundown of executive and board changes in the European media and communications industries.

FEATURED RESEARCH

Economics of TV & Film: PPV says goodbye to HBO: A look at some recent pay-per-view news/events, along with a list of upcoming events and video-on-demand movies.

RECENT EARNINGS

Daniela Latini, Sylvia Edwards Davis, Koen Pijnappels and Esben Svendsen contributed to this report.

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