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MegaFon buying Mail.Ru stake; Tencent invests in German map maker

Virtual Multichannel Revenues Projected To Soar In Next Five Years

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MegaFon buying Mail.Ru stake; Tencent invests in German map maker

TOP NEWS

* Russian operator MegaFon said it agreed to acquire a voting stake of 63.8% in internet firm Mail.Ru Group Ltd. for $740 million. The transaction is expected to enable the two companies to team up on commercial initiatives. The deal is subject to the approval of Russian antitrust authorities and MegaFon shareholders, among other conditions.

* Tencent Holdings Ltd., Singaporean sovereign wealth fund GIC Private Ltd. and China-based digital mapping company NavInfo agreed to jointly purchase a 10% stake in German digital mapping company HERE, Reuters reports. The deal is reportedly in line with the push to develop self-driving cars in China, and is expected to close in the first half of 2017.

UK AND IRELAND

* The Irish government will unveil the scope of its rural broadband program in February 2017 to shortlisted bidders eir Group plc, Vodafone Ireland-ESB joint venture SIRO, and Enet, The Irish Times of Dublin reports, citing sources. The Department of Communications is reportedly expected to reveal whether it removed 300,000 homes from the scheme's proposed area, which eir pledged to cover in its commercial rollout.

* Irish regional operator Nova Broadband will invest €250,000 to expand its footprint in Munster and parts of Leinster, Ireland, Silicon Republic reports. The investment will also enable the company to hire more staff and relocate its headquarters to a bigger facility.

* British police and aviation officials urged new drone owners to read recently released rules about the gadgets prior to taking them on their first flight, London's The Guardian reports. The rules are in line with government efforts to crack down on irresponsible drone users.

GERMANY, SWITZERLAND AND AUSTRIA

* German internet startup Relayr, which recently attracted investment from Munich Re, is taking over U.S.-Polish rival Proximetry, Handelsblatt reports. The deal, financial details of which were not disclosed, will broaden Relayr's technology spectrum, partner network and customer base.

* Axel Springer SE appointed Wolf-Ulrich Schüler as deputy editor-in-chief for news at Bild Zeitung as of Jan. 1, 2017. Schüler has served as head of news since April 2015. It was one of six senior editorial appointments.

* German Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière proposed a "center of defense against misinformation" in the fight against fake news on social media ahead of the 2017 election, Spiegel reports. The entity's focus would be on education, and responsibility would lie with the Federal Press Office, which is part of the Federal Chancellery.

* There were 400 cyber attacks on German government networks every day during the first half of 2016, 20 of which were "highly specialized," Die Zeit reports, citing Passauer Neue Presse. The Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution had already warned of attempts to influence the outcome of the 2017 election through cyber espionage and attacks.

FRANCE

* The Paris Commercial Court approved the sale of Viadeo to Figaro Classifieds, a subsidiary of Le Figaro Group, Les Echos reports. The transaction is scheduled to take effect in January 2017. Viadeo announced the resignation of independent administrator and board chair, Françoise Gri, Boursier reports.

* After the resignation of more than 90 employees out of a total of 120 following a protracted strike, news channel iTélé TV, owned by Vivendi SA's Canal Plus SA, became unable to provide live broadcasts for both the Christmas and New Year's weekends, Les Echos reports.

NETHERLANDS, BELGIUM AND LUXEMBOURG

* The Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets ordered Deutsche Telekom AG's T-Mobile Netherlands to stop offering its data-free music service over the alleged violation of Dutch net neutrality regulations. The regulator said it will penalize the company if it continues to offer the service.

* Belgian telecom provider United Telecom acquired Ello Mobile for €300,000, Knack reports. United Telecom, which is owned by Artilium, announced that at least €50,000 of Ello's profit will continue to be given to charities annually.

* Dutch State Secretary for Education, Culture and Science Sander Dekker said he wants public broadcaster NPO to publish a detailed overview of its yearly expenses, De Telegraaf reports. If his plan is approved, employee salaries, costs of sports broadcasting rights and other information deemed sensitive by NPO will be disclosed.

* Part of Schiphol Airport's Bluetooth beacon system was briefly taken over by software developer Hugo Visser, AndroidWorld reports. Visser used the beacons to send notifications to hundreds of people passing through to demonstrate security weaknesses.

NORDIC COUNTRIES

* Apple Inc. removed the products of Nokia Corp. unit Withings from its stores as a result of a legal dispute with the Finnish tech giant, Recode reports. Withings makes Wi-Fi scales and other digital health and fitness gear. Nokia filed lawsuits alleging that its patents had been violated by Apple in creating mobile devices.

* Modern Times Group wants to sell its free-to-view Nordic TV channels, including TV3 and TV6, Resume reports. The channels have reportedly been up for sale since last spring. MTG's pay-TV channels are not for sale, sources said.

* TDC A/S' Norwegian arm Get TDC said that it won a four-year contract with Norwegian lottery company Norsk Tipping worth 145 million Norwegian kroner. TDC will provide Norsk Tipping with communications services for the lottery company's network of more than 4,000 agents.

* Two of the three Telia Co. AB managers who were accused of sexual harassment have been fired, Aftonbladet reports. The three were suspended last week while the telecom group investigated accusations that they demanded sex from female employees in return for promotions.

* Egmont-owned Norwegian TV channel TV2 reached an agreement with cable company Get on the commercial parts of a new distribution deal, Dagens Næringsliv reports. This means that Get's customers, or about 1.3 million viewers, will not lose access to TV2 channels on Jan. 1, 2017.

SOUTHERN EUROPE

* Rakuten Inc.'s Spanish streaming service Wuaki.tv said it increased its subscriber base by 1 million since the beginning of 2016 and now totals 4 million, Broadband TV News reports. Aside from Spain, Wuaki.tv also operates in the U.K., Italy, Germany, France, Austria, Switzerland, Ireland, Belgium and Luxembourg.

* Spanish operator R Cable y Telecomunicaciones Galicia SA is holding Vodafone Group Plc accountable for major service disruptions on Dec. 23 and Dec. 24 that prevented subscribers from receiving or making mobile calls and accessing the internet, Telecompaper reports. R reportedly blames Vodafone's massive SMS delivery to customers for the outage, a claim refuted by the latter.

* Spanish competition watchdog CNMC set the cost of Telefónica SA's provision of universal telecommunications service in 2014 at €18.8 million, 3.9% lower than the previous year, Telecompaper reports.

EASTERN EUROPE

* The Bosnian government is considering the sale of state-owned operators BH Telecom and HT Mostar, Telecompaper reports, citing Dnevni List. In lieu of a full privatization, the Bosnian government could either sell part of the shares, sell up to a 41% stake in both companies, sell all of its shares and take the companies private, or maintain the status quo.

* Cyfrowy Polsat SA expanded its Mini HD bouquet with the addition of thematic channel Metro, offering films, series, lifestyle documentaries and reality shows, Telecompaper reports. The Polish pay TV operator also added BBC Lifestyle HD to its Family Max HD package.

FEATURED NEWS

The Daily Dose Asia-Pacific: Apple teams with Foxconn on expansion; Tencent invests in mapping firm: Apple reportedly tapped its Taiwanese manufacturer Foxconn to help with its Southeast Asian expansion plans, while China's Tencent partnered with two other investors to acquire a 10% stake in German digital mapping company HERE.

Briefing Room: 2016's biggest influencers in U.S. media, communications: S&P Global Market Intelligence highlights some of the individuals who had an outsized influence on the media and communications sectors in 2016.

The week in OTT: Amazon gets more Bollywood content; Disney-ABC, Snap team up: Amazon.com struck a deal with Indian home video outfit Ultra Media & Entertainment to secure more Bollywood content for Amazon India's Prime Video service, while Disney-ABC Television Group will produce original episodic shows for Snapchat.

M&A Replay: AMC closes Carmike deal; Tribune selling Gracenote: S&P Global Market Intelligence provides a wrap-up of U.S. media and communications deal announcements and completions from Dec. 19 to Dec. 23.

Vodafone Italia, Sky Italia partner on OTT; Amazon launches Prime Video in Spain: In this monthly feature, S&P Global Market Intelligence provides a roundup of news related to over-the-top, video-on-demand and other online video initiatives in Spain, Italy, Portugal, Greece and Turkey.

FEATURED RESEARCH

Economics of Internet: Mobile/OTT devices dwarf desktop at ABC and NBC in Q3 minutes viewed; desktop stalls: According to comScore Video Metrix data, non-desktop (mobile and OTT devices) viewing was significant for Comcast Corp.'s NBC and Walt Disney Co.'s ABC, accounting for approximately 78% and 75% of overall online video viewing in the third quarter, respectively.

Global Multichannel: Global TV Everywhere overview: Western Europe: TV Everywhere services in Western Europe scored an average of 71% for the number of key service features they now support.

Sylvia Edwards Davis, Stefanie Eschenbacher, Koen Pijnappels 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.