* Vivendi SA notified Italian regulator AGCOM of its plan to drop its controlling stake in Mediaset SpA, Advanced Television reports. Vivendi could avoid selling its 20% holding in Mediaset by transferring holdings beyond the 10% threshold to a properly formed blind trust, in order to ease regulatory concerns, Reuters reports, citing a source at AGCOM.
* Axel Springer SE and United Internet AG will merge their units AWIN AG and affilinet, as part of a move to create Europe's largest performance marketing network and eventually prepare for a public listing, according to a press release. Axel Springer will control 80% of the merged entity, with United Internet controlling the rest.
* Industry observers have welcomed British Telecom's recent pitch for universal high-speed broadband coverage in the U.K., calling it a "good deal" for consumers. The telecoms giant recently announced proposals to provide 99% of U.K. premises with broadband speeds of at least 10 megabits per second by 2020.
* European governments and businesses are increasingly looking at the implementation of internet of things technologies in their drive to set up smart cities, industry experts said at the Asia IoT Business Platform event in Manila.
UK AND IRELAND
* The British Broadcasting Corp. and Microsoft Corp. are experimenting with a voice capability for the BBC iPlayer, Broadband TV News reports. The two companies, which have built a prototype for a voice-enabled iPlayer, are looking into allowing users to sign in to their accounts using their voice.
* FremantleMedia Ltd. unit FremantleMedia International said it appointed Katrina Neylon as executive vice president of global content. Neylon will control the acquisition strategy for scripted and nonscripted programming.
* Scotland-based Johnston Press plc is seeking a debt-for-equity swap to prevent bankruptcy, London's The Daily Telegraph reports. The company, which owes about £220 million, has begun discussions with its pension trustees for its proposal.
* The Telegraph mistakenly published a story draft which said that the Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Philip, had died, The Guardian reports. A Telegraph spokesman apologized for the error and said it was "rectified immediately."
GERMANY, SWITZERLAND AND AUSTRIA
* Viacom Inc.'s Viacom International Media Networks will launch its MTV Play video-on-demand service in Germany and Austria, Broadband TV News reports. The agreement follows the company's recent rollout of other VOD services in countries such as Spain.
* Axel Springer increased revenues by 6.9% during the second quarter of 2017, according to a press release. The rise was driven by its digital business, which grew organically by 10.7% during the first half of 2017. EBITDA jumped 16.2% and the company noted significant earnings increases in its classified advertising and paid models.
* Discovery Communications Inc. and Sky still have not agreed over the supply of 45 German Bundesliga soccer games, reports Handelsblatt. Eurosport will therefore stream the content exclusively via its website for now, said Discovery Germany CEO Susanne Aigner-Drews.
* Lagardère SCA has confirmed that Dan Brown's latest novel, Origin, will be released in France on Oct. 4, after the U.S. and Canada release on Oct. 3.
* The most expensive film in the history of French cinema, Luc Besson's "Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets," is doing well at the French box office after a dismal U.S. opening, reports Les Echos. The sci-fi film had 1,640,681 admissions during its opening week in France.
NETHERLANDS, BELGIUM AND LUXEMBOURG
* Cloud strategy company Evolve IP LLC said it has acquired Netherlands-based cloud communications company Mtel. The strategic purchase is part of the company's ongoing growth strategy and will provide an increased presence in Europe. No financial details were disclosed.
* Dutch regulator ACM has rejected the enforcement request from operator CBizz BV against provider KPN NV. Cbizz argued that the tarrifs applied for the tender of connections in the municipalities of Westland and Midden-Delfland were in conflict with the Competition Act.
* Television provider Canal Digitaal has expanded its mobile TV app with the regional channels Rijnmond, Utrecht, NH, Flevoland, among others, TotaalTV reports. Also added were Animal Planet, RTL Crime and RTL Telekids.
* Apple Inc. will launch its payment service Apple Pay in the Nordic region by year-end, Børsen reports. Apple Pay will launch in Denmark, Finland and Sweden in 2017 and in Norway later on.
* U.S. venture capital company Marlin Equity Partners is acquiring Swedish cloud services provider Medius AB for an undisclosed sum, Breakit reports. Medius had revenue of 235 million Swedish kronor in 2016.
* Norwegian media group Schibsted ASA's Swedish news app Omni almost doubled its sales in 2016, to 40 million Swedish kronor, Breakit reports. Even though the service runs at a loss, Omni is planning to launch a new business news service in Sweden.
* Italian Industry Minister Carlo Calenda is pushing for a government probe into whether Vivendi informed the prime minister's office of the company's de facto control over Telecom Italia SpA, Reuters reports. Under Italian law, the government needs to be informed of any control or ownership change in a strategic national asset such as Telecom Italia within 10 days.
* Sky plc is planning to launch a high-speed broadband service in Italy, in a bid to challenge Telecom Italia, Bloomberg News reports, citing sources familiar with the matter. The pay TV giant is eyeing a partnership with Enel SpA and Cassa Depositi e Prestiti's fiber joint venture Enel Open Fiber SPA for the service.
* Croatian operators H1 Telekom and Optima Telekom have completed their merger, a year after the deal was announced, Telecompaper reports. The combined entity will retain the Optima Telekom name.
* ER-Telecom's proposed acquisition of Ulan-Ude regional operator Biks+ and Ulyanovsk-based operator Variant-TV has secured approval from Russia's Federal Antimonopoly Service, Telecompaper reports. The two operators are owned by the Strela Telecom group, which in turn is under Cyprus-based Elbrus Capital Investments.
* Russian direct-to-home operator NTV-Plus has tapped Eutelsat Communications SA's Eutelsat Networks' broadband system to offer broadband services to customers in European Russia, Telecompaper reports. The system is powered by Gilat's VSATs satellite solution.
* Russia is planning to launch a cloud platform for the data storage needs of its governmental and municipal institutions, Telecompaper reports, citing Vedomosti. The platform is expected to be rolled out in the second quarter of 2019, with the migration of government IT systems to the new platform being eyed in the fourth quarter of 2020.
Industry observers welcome BT's universal broadband proposal in UK: Industry observers welcome BT's pitch for universal high-speed broadband coverage in the U.K., calling it "a good deal" for consumers.
Hires and Fires: US Media & Comm director moves through Aug. 1: S&P Global Market Intelligence presents a rundown of board changes in the media and communications industries.
* Economics of Internet: OTT in Western Europe still on the rise as new players emerge: Online video consumption in Western Europe continues to show signs of growth, with a number of smaller over-the-top players entering the market in the past few years.
Anne Freier, Amanda Kelly, 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.