* Beijing ByteDance Technology Co. Ltd. does not intend to sell its TikTok app, Reuters reports, citing a statement by TikTok CEO Alex Zhu in an internal note. The emergence of the note comes after Bloomberg News reported that ByteDance CEO Yiming Zhang is looking into a range of options for the video unit to address concerns it faces in the U.S. Recommendations from advisers include an aggressive legal defense or a sale of a majority stake in TikTok.
* Thailand's National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission will offer 5G frequencies across four spectrum bands in an auction set for Feb. 16, 2020, Bangkok Post reported. The telecom regulator will first auction off licenses for frequencies in the 700 MHz band, before proceeding to the 1,800 MHz, 2,600 MHz and 26 GHz bands. The auction will be open to any potential bidders.
* Sony Corp. is struggling to meet the increased demand for its image sensors, Bloomberg News reports. Terushi Shimizu, head of Sony's semiconductor unit, said the company's manufacturing is unable to keep pace despite plans by Sony to hike its capital spending on the business and a decision to set up a new plant.
* SoftBank Corp. and NAVER Corp. have entered into a definitive and binding agreement for the merger of their respective subsidiaries, web portal Yahoo Japan and messaging app LINE Corp. The deal, first announced in November, will see SoftBank and Naver buying all of LINE's shares in a joint tender offer, and then turning LINE into a 50/50 joint venture. The joint venture will become the controlling shareholder of Z Holdings Corp., with Yahoo Japan and LINE as wholly owned subsidiaries. The merger is expected to be completed by October 2020.
* Murata Manufacturing Co. Ltd. agreed to acquire Miraisens Inc., a local haptic technology solutions provider, to expand its product-base in the sensor and actuator business. Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.
* Rakuten Inc. decided to off-load its U.S.-based e-book distribution unit OverDrive Inc. Meanwhile, KKR & Co. Inc. said it signed a deal to acquire OverDrive for an undisclosed amount. The private equity company will make the investment in OverDrive via its KKR Americas XII Fund. The Japanese e-commerce company expects to record about a ¥40 billion gain in fiscal first quarter of 2020 from the sale of the unit.
* Sumitomo Corp. will set up a joint venture with seven other companies, including Internet Initiative Japan Inc., to provide 5G wireless networks to cable TV operators.
* KDDI Corp. bought back 6,067,300 shares of its common stock through a series of market repurchases from Dec. 1 to Dec. 23. The total repurchase price is ¥19.47 billion.
* Kakao M Corp. subsidiary Starship Entertainment Corp. signed a deal to acquire a 100% stake in local live entertainment company Shownote Co. Inc., Financial News reports. The music unit of Kakao Corp. plans to leverage Shownote's global market experience to expand its live stage performance business overseas.
* The Korea Communications Commission finalized guidelines for fair network usage contracts by specifying types of unfair practices and contract principles, as well as making it mandatory for content providers to inform internet service providers of traffic route changes in advance, ET News reports. The new guidelines will take effect from late January 2020 and will be reevaluated every three years.
* KT Corp. signed a memorandum of understanding with Hyundai Motor Co.'s in-house battery-recycling venture startup POEN and battery-maker AIMS to build a smart mobility platform, Digital Daily reports.
GREATER CHINA (MAINLAND CHINA, HONG KONG AND TAIWAN MARKETS)
* U.S. National Security Adviser Robert O'Brien warned the U.K. about allowing Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. into the country's 5G telecommunications networks, London's Financial Times reports. He said such a move would be a security threat to British secret intelligence services MI5 and MI6.
* China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology aims to offer 5G in all of the country's nearly 300 prefecture-level cities by the end of 2020, VentureBeat reports.
* Beijing-based BOE Technology Group Co. Ltd. will build a 3.4 billion yuan manufacturing plant for 12-inch OLED microdisplays. The facility, which will be located in the southwest Chinese province of Yunnan, is designed to produce 10,000 displays per month.
* Huawei launched a smart working platform targeting corporate clients, 36Kr reports. Called WeLink, the platform provides cloud services as well as digital connectivity within offices.
INDIA AND SOUTH ASIA
* Vodafone Idea Ltd. put its plans to expand and modernize its 4G network on hold in order to cut costs and meet a January 2020 deadline to settle its adjusted gross revenue, or AGR, dues, The Economic Times (India) reports, citing people familiar with the matter. The Indian telco was ordered to pay US$4 billion in spectrum and license fees as part of an industrywide ruling on AGR.
* Indian state-owned telecom operator BSNL made partial payments to clear its outstanding dues to gear suppliers Nokia Corp., Ericsson, ZTE Corp. and UTStarcom Holdings Corp. According to an industry source cited by The Economic Times (India), Nokia and ZTE each received an interim payment of 1.5 billion Indian rupees, UTStarcom has been sanctioned 500 million rupees and Ericsson is slated to get 220 million rupees.
* Netflix Inc. and Spotify Technology SA may face regulatory penalties in Indonesia if they are found guilty of not paying local taxes, Kompas reports. Johnny Plate, minister of communication and informatics, said the government is currently drafting a law to tax over-the-top companies and is expected to complete the legislation in the first quarter of 2020.
* Malaysia plans to create a national body that will handle media-related matters, according to The Malaysian Reserve. Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Minister Gobind Singh Deo is working with Datuk Abdul Kadir Jasin, the media and communications adviser to the prime minister, for the initiative.
* Indonesian education technology startup Ruangguru announced that it secured 2.1 trillion rupiah in its series C financing round led by U.S. private equity firms General Atlantic LLC and GGV Capital.
AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND
* Foxtel Cable Television Pty. Ltd. is axing European sports network Eurosport from its channel lineup due to declining viewership. According to TV BlackBox, Eurosport will stop being available to Foxtel subscribers from Jan. 31, 2020. The changes come after Foxtel renegotiated its content supply agreement with Eurosport owner Discovery Inc.
Data Dispatch: 'Star Wars' set to dominate Christmas box office: Disney is set to maintain a firm grip on the box office during the five-day Christmas frame, as "Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker" enters its second weekend.
Economics of TV & Film: Premium networks original emphasis imperative to OTT: Original production has boomed thanks to increased focus from networks and streamers, but premium networks seem to have more patience than most.
Nozomi Ibayashi, Myungran Ha, Emily Lai, Ed Eduard and Patrick Tibke contributed to this report.
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