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EBay to acquire Swedish AI firm; NYC to conditionally approve Altice-Cablevision deal

Southeast Asian broadband providers report varying performance amid COVID-19

Cable networks react to pandemic by cutting SG&A, programming costs

Strong Competition Remains For Thailand Digital Terrestrial TV Channel

ITU: Regulators discuss impacts of COVID-19 on policymaking


EBay to acquire Swedish AI firm; NYC to conditionally approve Altice-Cablevision deal

TOP NEWS

*U.S. e-commerce giant eBayInc. agreed to acquire Sweden-based Expertmaker, a provider ofartificial intelligence-backed solutions, machine learning and big data analytics,for an undisclosed sum. Expertmaker workers will join eBay's structured dataproduct and technology team, while Expertmaker founder and CEO Lars Hard willjoin as director of data science, according to a news release.

*New York City officials are set to conditionally approve 's proposed acquisition ofCablevision Systems Corp.,the New York Post reports,citing a draft resolution. The city's Franchise and Concession Review Committeewill recommend approval of the $17.7 billion deal on May 11, provided the Netherlands-based operatorstrikes a deal with New York state regulators. The state's Public ServiceCommission reportedly asked Altice to commit to maintaining levels of customer-facingworkers for an "appropriate time period," among other concessions.New York state officials are also expected to approve the deal on May 20. TheFCC approved themerger on May 3.

UK AND IRELAND

*The BBC Trust will allow British satellite TV platform Freesat to deliver livepay sports coverage via broadband, Digital TV Europe reports.The decision will reportedly aid Freesat's ongoing talks with contentproviders. The Trust's approval is necessary since Freesat is jointly owned bythe British BroadcastingCorp. and ITVPlc.

*British Telecompledged to invest around £6 billion over the next three years, as it aims toprovide superfast broadband and 4G coverage to more than 95% of the U.K. by2020. During the same period, ultrafast broadband will be deployed to at least 10million homes and businesses, subject to regulatory support, BT said in a  statement.The investment will be made through BT's Openreach and units.

*BBC Studios head Mark Linsey is bringing in genre chiefs who are expected tobring in commercial, and not creative, expertise, Broadcast reports.Linsey also reportedly axed the digital chief post and will replace job titlesof senior managers to directors of department from heads of department.Creative heads ranked below the board members will oversee creative matters but"within the context of strong business and operational support,"according to the report.

*Trinity Mirror PLCemployees are concerned about impending layoffs due to the closure of thecompany's short-lived publication New Day,The Guardian (London) reports.The U.K.'s National Union of Journalists is reportedly accusing Trinity MirrorChairman David Grigson of being secretive for not disclosing the breakdown ofcosts, profits and losses incurred by NewDay. Trinity Mirror CEO Simon Fox said no job cuts will be made as a resultof New Day's closure, according tothe report.

GERMANY, SWITZERLAND ANDAUSTRIA

*German news portal Spiegel Online, in cooperation with public broadcasters ARDand ZDF, will broadcast video summaries of the European Football Championshipin France. The addition is part of the news site's systematic expansion, reportsMeedia. Spiegel Online reporters will be reporting directly from the quartersof the German national league and interview key players. Users can also streampress conferences live.

*Google Inc. Germany bossPhilipp Justus asked the Bundesregierung, the German Cabinet, to develop aGigabit plan and invest more money into the expansion of the broadband, accordingto WirtschaftsWoche. Justus asked politicians to view Germany's digitalizationas a larger topic, and criticized the digital level within schools in thecountry compared to those internationally, according to the report. Google is aunit of Alphabet Inc.

* Ina surprise move, Servus TV decided to continue business despite boss DietrichMateschitz announcing its suspension on May 3. Following a series of talks, theinvolved parties agreed to continue with the channel. The service will remainin operation to continue a politically independent line, the company said in anews release.

FRANCE

*Iliad founder XavierNiel extended the expiry date of option agreements related to a potential stakein Telecom ItaliaSpA, Reuters reports.  Niel changed the expiration date on optionsrelating to 4.9% of Telecom Italia's capital to September 2017 from June thisyear. Mediobanca Securities analysts reportedly said that the move signalsNiel's commitment to the Italian telecom.

* Siné Hebdo founder Maurice Sinet, knownas Siné, died May 5, reportsLe Monde. The cartoonist previouslyworked at French publication CharlieHebdo.

NETHERLANDS, BELGIUM, ANDLUXEMBOURG

*Ride-hailing service Uber hired former European Commissioner for CompetitionNeelie Kroes as a consultant, reportsHet Financieele Dagblad. The Dutchpolitician will advise Uber on issues such as regulation and competition. WhenKroes was commissioner, she criticized efforts to keep the taxi service out ofEuropean countries.

*Liberty Global plc'sDutch cable operator ZiggoNV will remove HD channels 13th Street, Syfy and E! Entertainmentfrom its TV offerings on July 1, reportsMedia Magazine. The channels are owned by 's . BBC First HDwill be added to Ziggo's lineup July 1, according to the report.

NORDIC COUNTRIES

*Fast food giant McDonalds selected Swedish music company Soundtrack Your Brandas its global partner for delivering music to its 36,000 branches, Breakit reports.Financial details were not disclosed, but according to the report, SoundtrackYour Brand could likely see annual revenues of at least 100 million Swedishkronor from the deal. Soundtrack Your Brand, which countsTelia Co AB as one ofits owners, tailors music for shops, hotels and restaurants and has apartnership with streaming music service Spotify Ltd. The McDonalds deal is the first with a U.S.chain, and also marks the company's global launch.

*The Norwegian media industry has implemented cuts of 1 billion Norwegian kronerin the last two years, and is planning cuts of another billion kroner in thenext two years, Dagens Næringsliv reports.All the Norwegian media houses have introduced cost cutting measures, and asmany as 500 full-time positions could be lost in the sector in 2016 alone.Changes in the Norwegian ad market occur as advertisers shift to digital mediafrom paper, and competition from international giants like Google andFacebook Inc.increases.

*Telenor initiated a new book about its recent history and the corruptionscandal surrounding the company's dealings with , E24 reports,citing financial magazine Kapital.According to the article, Telenor's former CEO Jon Fredrik Baksaas has beenpushing for the book project. The author of the book, Odd Harald Hauge,reportedly said that he had been given full access to information he needed.

SOUTHERN EUROPE

*Portuguese operators Cabovisão and ONI are set to a mobile virtual network operatorservice, Telecompaper reports,citing Jornal de Negócios. Cabovisãoreportedly said that the new service will be available only in selectedlocations, although both operators have already asked customers if they went toadd mobile services to their packages. Portugal's National CommunicationsAuthority, or ANACOM, awarded an MVNO license to Cabovisão and ONI in November2015, according to the report. Apax Partners France's Cabolink earlierbought Cabovisão andONI from Altice NV's PTPortugal.

*Italian power utility Enel is close to submitting its bid for a majority stakein fiber optic firm Metroweb, Reuters reports,citing two sources familiar with the matter. Enel, which is said to currentlyvalue Metroweb at €760 million, reportedly plans to acquire infrastructure fundF2i's 54% stake in Metroweb, and merge Metroweb with its Enel Open Fiberventure. Telecom Italia SpA is also looking to acquire a majority stake in Metroweb.

*Telecom Italia Human Resources Director Mario Di Loreto is set to leave thecompany, reportsCapital.fr. The announcement comes just weeks after the appointment of a newCEO and the departure of the telecom's business support officer. Di Loreto, whoreportedly said he is looking to take on a new challenge in a largeinternational company, will remain in his position until late May.

EASTERN EUROPE

*Russian operator ER-Telecom received permission to acquire St. Petersburg-basedfirm Vest Koll for an undisclosed sum, Broadband TV News reports,citing Kommersant. Vest Koll wasfounded in 1996 and most recently owned by the Cyprus-registered WintergateHoldings Ltd. Prospective buyers reportedly included and . Vest Koll has 350,000business-to-consumer customers and 25,000 business-to-business clients,according to the report.

*Telenor ASA's Serbianunit Telenor Serbia is pumping an additional €40 million in 2016 to extend 4Gcoverage to 50% of the country's population, Telecompaper reports,citing company CEO Ingeborg Øfsthus. Telenor Serbia reportedly invested over€445 million in network infrastructure, since it debuted in the country 10years ago.  

FEATURED NEWS

: E! Entertainment Televisionco-founder Larry Namer talks about the differences in programming for Americanversus Chinese audiences and how the Chinese entertainment industry is rapidlyevolving. Today Namer is president and CEO of Metan Global Entertainment Group,which produces and distributes content for Chinese-speaking audiences.

: Despite rejecting an $815 million acquisitionoffer from Gannett, Tribune Publishing might yet be pressured to reopennegotiations for a sale, analysts told SNL Kagan.

: SNL Kagan presents a weekly rundown ofexecutive changes in the media and communications industries.

: SNL Kagan presents abi-weekly rundown of executive and board changes in the European media andcommunications industries.

: This feature tracks potential deal activity inthe Media & Communications sector including announced strategic reviews,intended purchases or sales and rumored transactions.

FEATURED RESEARCH

: For the top three U.S.cable operators, the brightening video subscriber picture comes at a cost:melting segment profitability. 

: Net sales for the HSN networksin the first quarter decreased 3.7%, or $22.1 million, year over year to $578.4million.

: Our 2016 summer box office season wasushered in rather quietly with weekly box office down 42.7% to $148.0 millionfrom $258.4 million in 2015.

: The pace of telcovideo's market share decline quickened as AT&T's focus on DIRECTV gainedmomentum.

:Time Warner reported that the Turner segment's revenues were up 7.2% to $2.91billion for the quarter ended March 31.

RECENT EARNINGS

: CenturyLink expects to have moreclarity on options for its data center and colocation business in the nextcouple weeks, with offers regarding a possible sale or joint venture comingdue, CenturyLink President and CEO Glen Post III said.

: Discovery Communicationsexecutives said a just-announced cost-savings plan puts the company on track toexpand its profit margin for full year 2016. Discovery plans to reallocatetraditional linear business costs to new media platforms and contentdevelopment such as mobile short-form videos, sports and direct-to-consumerinitiatives.

Amanda Kelly, Anne Freier,Kees Pijnappels and Esben Svendsen contributed to this report. The Daily Dosehas an editorial deadline of 7 a.m. London time. Some external links mayrequire a subscription.