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EU approves Comcast's Sky bid; Deutsche Telekom to enter esports

TOP NEWS

* European Union antitrust regulators unconditionally approved Comcast Corp.'s bid for the British pay TV giant Sky PLC, concluding that "the transaction would raise no competition concerns in Europe." The proposed transaction would combine Sky — the leading pay TV operator in Austria, Germany, Ireland, Italy and the U.K. — with Comcast, the largest U.S. cable operator.

* Deutsche Telekom AG said it is preparing to venture into esports. In the framework of a partnership, the company will support SK Gaming, an international esports organization, with know-how in the areas of telecommunications and technology.

PAN-EUROPEAN

* Kaspersky Lab Inc. has stopped collaborating with European agencies on cybercrime initiatives as a protest to the European Parliament's motion that called the company's software "malicious," BBC News reports. The software company will discontinue cybercrime efforts with the European agencies until it receives a clarification from the parliament on the statement released.

UK AND IRELAND

* About 700 executives and senior managers at British company Sky are anticipated to partake in a £350 million performance-related bonus scheme, The Sunday Times reports. The payout is a result of the bidding battle between Comcast and 21st Century Fox Inc., which inflated the value of the bonus scheme.

* U.K. operator O2 will provide its subscribers with access to Netflix Inc. as part of a global agreement between the streaming giant and Telefónica SA, O2's parent company, Advanced Television reports. As part of the deal, O2 subscribers will have free access to Netflix for up to 12 months.

* The British Broadcasting Corp. announced that it has released its new distribution policy, which provides seven conditions on how the company will distribute its public services in the U.K. The new policy's release comes after the conclusion of a four-month consultation on a draft, which included submissions from stakeholders and consultations from audience groups and Ofcom.

GERMANY, SWITZERLAND AND AUSTRIA

* The European Commission said it had to cancel the first call for municipal applications for free Wi-Fi hotspots under its WiFi4EU voucher program after it found that a "technical error" prevented applicants from applying on equal terms. The EC's Innovation and Networks Executive Agency responsible for the programme will launch a new call for applications in the fall of 2018.

* German Federal Network Agency BNetzA announced it has prohibited certain conditions of Vodafone Group PLC unit Vodafone Deutschland Gmbh's zero-rating mobile tariff option, "Vodafone Pass." The Vodafone Pass can still be booked, but adjustments are required for use in the EU. The use of the Pass is only unlimited in Germany.

FRANCE

* France Télévisions SA, Groupe M6 and TF1 Group announced the creation of a joint French over-the-top platform named SALTO. The companies said an autonomous company will be created, owned in equal share by the three groups, subject to review by the competent authorities. SALTO will offer a variety of content, such as news, special events, sports, entertainment, French fiction, U.S. series, documentaries and cinema.

* France Telecom, now Orange SA, and its former CEO, Didier Lombard, are to stand trial before the Criminal Court in Paris on charges of "moral harassment," for the wave of employee suicides in the late 2000s, Challenges reports, citing a source by Agence France-Presse.

NETHERLANDS, BELGIUM AND LUXEMBOURG

* Qualcomm Inc. said its unit Qualcomm River Holdings BV extended its offer to acquire Dutch chipmaker NXP Semiconductors NV until June 22. Qualcomm's proposed purchase of NXP has yet to secure regulatory clearance in China, Reuters reports, citing sources close to the talks. The sources dismissed an earlier report by the South China Morning Post that Beijing had already approved the $44 billion deal.

* Intelsat SA announced that it is teaming up with Globo, a Latin America broadcaster, to demonstrate live 8K video transmissions in Brazil for the 2018 World Cup. Starting June 15 and running through July 15, content will be broadcast as part of an exhibition at the Museu de Amanhã, Rio de Janeiro's science museum, the company said June 15.

* Orange Belgium CEO Michael Trabbia stated that there is no need for a fourth major provider on the Belgian telecom market as current players such as Medialaan, Lycamobile Belgium and VOO already provide enough competition to big providers such as Proximus and Telenet, De Tijd writes. Trabbia's statements follow the recently announced proposal from minister Alexander De Croo to open up the telecom market to a fourth big player.

* Meanwhile, the Belgian government has said it will await "objective information" of regulator BIPT before it will make any statements about a possible fourth telecom player entering the market, reports De Tijd. The government will, in the coming weeks provide BIPT with a concrete list of questions the regulator should answer via an analysis.

* Dutch public broadcaster NPO will pay a significantly higher amount for the 2018/2019 broadcasting rights of the summaries of the Dutch Eredivisie to Fox Sports than previous years, writes De Telegraaf. According to sources with knowledge on the matter, NPO would have to pay €30 million instead of the regular €22 million.

NORDIC COUNTRIES

* Modern Times Group announced that its unit Nordic Entertainment Group has acquired exclusive Nordic TV rights to the Bundesliga and other top football leagues. The deal includes rights to Ligue 1, Eredivisie and Belgian and Scottish premierships until 2021, as well as the 2019 Copa América.

* Telenor ASA will switch around 15,000 to 20,000 customers from copper lines to mobile or fiber infrastructure between 2018 to 2019, writes e24.no. The project is linked to Telenor's plan to connect available mobile frequencies to 4G and later transition these to 5G.

SOUTHERN EUROPE

* Spanish hybrid broadcast broadband TV platform LOVEStv, jointly created by public broadcaster RTVE, Atresmedia and Mediaset SpA, has gone live, Advanced Television reports. The free-to-air platform, which will eventually become an over-the-top service, offers content from the broadcasters.

* U.K.-based global media company Perform Group is launching its sports streaming service DAZN in Italy, Telecompaper reports. The platform will offer Serie A coverage after Perform Group secured exclusive rights to the soccer league's games.

* Subscription video-on-demand service FilmStruck has debuted in Spain, Telecompaper reports. The platform will initially offer a content catalogue of about 200 classic movies in HD resolution. FilmStruck is jointly owned by Turner International Inc. unit Digital Ventures & Innovation Group and Warner Bros. Digital Networks division. Turner International is a unit of Turner Broadcasting System Inc., while Warner Bros. is a unit of Time Warner Inc.

* Vodafone España SAU has added content from Sony Pictures Television Networks' video-on-demand service AXN Now to its on-demand TV offer, Digital TV Europe reports. Users will be able to access content from Vodafone's VOD offering Videoclub. Sony Corp. owns Sony Pictures Television Networks.

* Vodafone Italia is set offer national coverage for its narrowband internet of things services across Italy by September, Telecompaper reports, citing a statement.

* Iliad SA's founder and majority shareholder Xavier Niel said the international 4G roaming service on Free Mobile will arrive "very quickly for Italy," where Iliad has its own 4G network, Univers Freebox reports. Niel said Free is working to include other international destinations.

EASTERN EUROPE

* Spi International Inc.-owned Kino Polska TV SA has acquired 41% of media company Agora SA's stake in Polish terrestrial film channel Stoplatka TV, Rapid TV News reports. Kino Polska TV now owns 82.6% of Stoplatka TV following the deal.

* Producer and distributor Prime Entertainment Group has struck content deals for 10 hours of documentary shows with Croatia's Doku TV and the Czech Republic's Kinosvet and War Channel, Rapid TV News reports.

* Poland's Office of Electronic Communications and Nokia Corp. have reached a data transfer speed of 375 Mbps in 5G trials conducted during the 35th plenary meeting of the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications in the Polish city of Gdansk, Telecompaper reports.

* Croatian operator Vipnet will be rebranded as A1 Croatia by the year's end, Broadband TV News reports. Vipnet is a unit of A1 Telekom Austria Group, which seeks to use the A1 brand across all its operations.

FEATURED NEWS

Conference Chatter: AR & VR World 2018: Augmented, mixed reality gain momentum in enterprise: As virtual reality faces mixed results among consumers, momentum is building for augmented and mixed reality in the workplace.

FEATURED RESEARCH

Consumer Insights: European survey links music listening and gaming, but not TV: A profile of music listeners in Europe highlights that avid music listeners also tend to be avid gamers, but the same correlation does not apply to watching TV.

Daniela Latini, Sylvia Edwards Davis, Charlotte van Hek and Gerard O'Dwyer contributed to this report.

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