* Liberty Global plc said it agreed to sell its UPC Austria unit to Deutsche Telekom AG's T-Mobile Austria GmbH for an enterprise value of about €1.9 billion, subject to debt and capital adjustments. Deal completion is expected in the second half of 2018, subject to regulatory approval.
* Amazon.com Inc.'s Amazon Prime Video secured content deals with Spanish broadcasters RTVE, Mediaset España Comunicación SA and Atresmedia, Advanced Television reports. The deal will enable Amazon Prime Video to distribute various content from the broadcasters via its video-on-demand platform, including some 34 TV series and other programs.
* European Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society Mariya Gabriel and members of the European Parliament inked a joint declaration affirming the continuous implementation of net neutrality regulations across the EU, according to a news release. The declaration noted the importance of "ensuring that the internet ecosystem remains open" by banning blocking, throttling and discrimination on access to content online.
UK AND IRELAND
* Some 45 senior employees in Eir Group plc will share €100 million in exchange for selling their shares in the company to French telecom investor Xavier Niel, who is set to buy a majority stake in the Irish telco, Dublin's The Irish Times reports, citing sources. Niel is acquiring the majority stake via his investment vehicle NJJ Capital SAS and telecom operator Iliad SA.
* Sky News staff warned of 500 job losses and a "deeply damaging blow" to British journalism if Sky plc pushes through with the channel's closure, Dublin's Irish Independent reports. The employees raised the concerns to the U.K. Competition and Markets Authority, after pay-TV giant Sky warned of shutting down Sky News if the channel turned out to be the main obstacle to the proposed takeover by 21st Century Fox Inc.
* British Broadcasting Corp. units BBC Studios and BBC Worldwide Ltd. named four members of the executive committee that will lead the new BBC Studios, to be formed in April 2018 upon the merger of the two entities. The executives include Tom Fussell as CFO, Anna Mallett as COO and managing director for production, Martyn Freeman as general counsel and Jabbar Sardar as human resources director.
GERMANY, SWITZERLAND AND AUSTRIA
* The position of German newspaper publishers has been further strengthened, following a Dec. 14 Bundesgerichtshof verdict saying that the revision of a judgment against the Tagesschau app would not be allowed, dpa reports. The verdict makes it official that German public broadcaster ARD acted to the detriment of freely financed journalism.
* Canal Plus SA announced a multiyear agreement with La Scam, the Civil Society of Multimedia Authors, for the distribution of works over all channels and services of the Vivendi SA unit in France and abroad. The agreement takes effect Jan. 1, 2018.
* Orange SA's Orange Business Services said it has joined the Airbus Consortium, one of the four groups of companies selected for the European Space Agency's Copernicus data and information access service program. Through its entity Orange Cloud for Business, Orange will provide expertise in cloud-based ICT services together with its globally operated public cloud solution, Flexible Engine.
* Google Inc.'s News Lab Fellowship program has been launched in France, the Alphabet Inc. unit said in a blog post. Six fellowships will allow students to work for 12 weeks in one of the six major French newsrooms at Agence France-Presse, Les Echos, LCI, Les Observateurs - France 24, Ouest-France and La Montagne.
* Daimler Mobility Services, a unit of German automaker Daimler AG, acquired a majority stake in French ride-hailing app Chauffeur Privé, a local rival to Uber Technologies Inc. The deal, financial details of which were not disclosed, is subject to regulatory approval.
NETHERLANDS, BELGIUM AND LUXEMBOURG
* Film distributor Dutch Filmworks BV said it has received permission from the Dutch Data Protection Authority to register and fine people who illegally download content. Dutch Filmworks will start by tracking illegal downloads of the film "The Hitman's Bodyguard" and will fine each offender €150.
* The Dutch Advertising Code Committee found that Google misinforms consumers on privacy, NRC reports. The committee accused Google of storing consumer information regardless of their privacy settings, to which Google responded that it is currently looking into the matter.
* KPN NV said it has started the rollout of an internet of things LTE-M network in The Hague and Rotterdam, and that it plans to complete national coverage in the Netherlands by the end of the first quarter of 2018. The LTE-M network is complementary to KPN's existing LoRa and Machine-to-Machine networks.
* Liberty Global's chief marketing director, Inge Smidts, will be appointed as CEO at Cable & Wireless Communications Inc., De Tijd reports. Smits was responsible for consumer marketing at Telenet and switched to Liberty Global in 2015.
* Proximus said it has renewed its contract with world soccer league UEFA, and that it will continue to own exclusive rights to UEFA Champions League broadcasts in Belgium until 2021. Proximus also launched Multi Live, a live program that switches between multiple soccer matches to show game highlights.
* Telia Co. AB said it acquired Löddeköpinge-based operator TV-Net AB. TV-Net delivers fast-broadband, cable-TV and telephony services to around 2,200 customers over a fiber network. TV-Net will in future operate as a subsidiary of Telia Infra.
* Nokia Corp. signed a multiyear patent license agreement with Chinese smartphone manufacturer Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd., details of which were kept confidential, according to a stock exchange release. The Finnish firm expects revenue from the agreement to be recognized starting in the fourth quarter.
* TV2 acquired Danish broadcasting rights to "The X Factor" from Blu and FremantleMedia Ltd., MediaWatch reports. The Danish version of "The X Factor" will debut on TV2 in 2019. The airing rights to "The X Factor" were previously held by public broadcaster DR.
* VINNOVA secured a government commission to study the potential of artificial intelligence to support "smart business" in Sweden, Di Digital reports. The state-run innovation agency has been tasked to map and analyze Sweden's AI capabilities.
* Bonnier Publications AB will move production of four history-themed magazines from Malmö in Sweden to Copenhagen, Resume reports. The decision is based on Bonnier's desire to house its core marketing, digital and content production units under one roof.
* Italy's market regulator is set to launch a probe into whether Telecom Italia SpA should be penalized after it approved a joint venture with Canal Plus, Reuters reports, citing a source. Meanwhile, Telecom Italia auditors are considering a court challenge to the joint venture's approval by the company's board, according to the report, citing Il Sole 24 Ore.
* MásMóvil Ibercom SA completed the refinancing of its senior financing arrangement worth €386 million, Reuters reports, citing a company statement. The debt's average life was extended to about 12 months.
* The Lithuanian government is banning the use of Kaspersky Lab ZAO software from government-owned computers that control sensitive infrastructure for being "a potential threat to national security," Reuters reports. Kaspersky said it disagrees with the decision and is considering to challenge the ban.
* The British government committed to helping Poland counter "Russian disinformation" through joint strategic communications projects, as part of an enhanced bilateral defense and security partnership. Britain will provide £5 million of funding for the projects, including support to Polish-founded TV channel Belsat that provides "unbiased, free and frank reporting" for citizens in nearby Belarus.
* Vodafone România named Mostafa El Beltagy as the director of its consumer business unit, effective March 1, 2018, Broadband TV News reports. Beltagy previously headed Vodafone Group Plc's marketing global projects division.
Hires and Fires: AT&T cuts DIRECTV jobs; ESPN president steps down: Telecom giant AT&T laid off more than 700 DIRECTV home installers, while John Skipper resigned as president of ESPN and co-chairman of Disney Media Networks.
Consumer Insights: Would you subscribe just for original OTT content?: Online subscription video services need to keep a deep catalog of content, as less than half of Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime Video users are willing to subscribe just for originals.
Anne Freier, Amanda Kelly, 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.