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Vivendi further ups Mediaset stake; Orange in talks to buy Canal Plus

TOP NEWS

* Vivendi SA announced that it has crossed the 5% and 10% thresholds of the Mediaset SpA share capital. The French mass media conglomerate now owns 12.32% of the Mediaset share capital. Mediaset's biggest shareholder Fininvest SpA filed a complaint against Vivendi for alleged market manipulation, following the French media group's intention to raise its holding in Mediaset to 20%, Reuters reports, citing a company statement.

* Orange SA is in talks with Vivendi over the Canal Plus acquisition, Advanced Television reports, citing Exane BNP Paribas analysts' comments. Telecom Italia SpA will reportedly not be part of the deal.

PAN EUROPEAN

* European soccer administrative body UEFA opened the selling process for sponsorship and TV rights to 2018-2021 Champions League and Europa League games, Bloomberg News reports. UEFA is reportedly expecting to earn $3.4 billion per season from the rights sale.

UK AND IRELAND

* British Broadcasting Corp. unit BBC Worldwide Ltd. and ITV Plc teamed up to launch an SVOD service called BritBox in the U.S. in the first quarter of 2017, according to a news release. AMC Networks Inc. is also investing in BritBox.

* The My 5 VOD service of Viacom Inc.'s Channel 5 (UK) will become available on Google Inc.'s Chromecast, Rapid TV News reports. Google is a unit of Alphabet Inc.

* A 17-year-old who hacked into Talk Talk's systems was sentenced to be rehabilitated for 12 months, while the telco was fined £400,000 for its poor security, Reuters reports. The cyberattack took place in October 2015 and has affected about 4% of Talk Talk's customers.

* Sony Corp.'s Sony Movie Channel will launch under a new brand across the Freeview, Virgin and Sky plc's Sky TV platforms in the U.K. on Jan. 10, 2017, Rapid TV News reports.

* The 4G mobile phone coverage in the U.K. is less reliable compared to Romania, Albania, Panama and Peru, according to a report by the National Infrastructure Commission.

* RTL Group unit SpotX appointed three new officers to handle the growth of supply-side customers in the U.K. and southern Europe, Rapid TV News reports.

GERMANY, SWITZERLAND AND AUSTRIA

* Amazon.com Inc. is investing €90 million in a new logistics center in Winsen, Germany, to broaden its European logistics network, according to a press release. The logistics center will increase its stock with "fulfillment by Amazon" guarantee whereby sellers can stock their products with Amazon, which provides customer services, packing and shipping.

* German distributor Beta Film acquired a minority stake in Lineup Industries, Screen Daily reports. The Dutch television formats company will continue to operate independently while assisting Beta Film with the light entertainment and formats.

* The services of Microsoft Corp.'s cloud-computing platform, Microsoft Azure Deutschland, can now be booked online by both companies and individuals as pay-as-you-go, according to a press release.

* Deutsche Telekom AG and investor Hellman & Friedman are selling 7 million shares of online retailer Scout24, according to a regulatory filing. Scout24 is owned by Willis Lux Holding, which is owned by funds advised by affiliates of Hellman & Friedman, Deutsche Telekom and others. Willis Lux Holdings, which is in liquidation, will receive gross proceeds of about €149.3 million and Deutsche Telekom €57.6 million.

* SAP SE is expanding its presence in Germany to collaborate with up to 10 startups in Berlin on the internet of things, reports Infosat. Projects will include drones for real-time inspection flights, intelligent transport supervision or software for augmented reality that supports repair or installation work.

* German IPTV platform waipu.tv is adding a new channel, eoTV HD, which broadcasts European original series and movies to its portfolio, reports Infosat. Separately, it will offer a beta-version for Amazon Fire TV from Dec. 15.

* Highlights of RTL II and RTL II You are now available for download on mobile television app dailyme TV, according to a press release. The content can be viewed for free and without internet connection.

* Mediengruppe Thüringen has relaunched the online presence of three newspapers; thueringer-allgemeine.de, otz.de und tlz.de, according to a press release.

* Germany and France plan to support startups and boost Europe's digital economy with a €1 billion fund that would include credit from European countries and private investment to narrow the digital gap with the U.S., reports Reuters. The countries considered the importance of improving cyber-security cooperation, particularly for cloud services that small firms use.

FRANCE

* RTL Group said it plans to regroup its French radio operations into Groupe M6. RTL and Groupe M6's boards approved the deal, which will give RTL 48.26% shareholding of the French TV broadcaster. The deal will be for €216 million, Reuters reports.

* The French Telecom Federation is concerned about the future of telecom operators, reports Le Figaro. Price competition and tax increases that do not affect competitors like Google, Facebook Inc., Apple Inc. and Amazon are having a negative impact on operators' turnover, investment capacity and jobs between 2010 and 2015. The sector lost 13% of its workforce.

* Orange and the SACD have launched a call for projects for the first edition of La Bourse #RealiteVirtuelle. With a total of €50,000, the aim of the competition is to support up to four projects that feature immersive experiences intended to be played with virtual reality headsets.

NETHERLANDS, BELGIUM AND LUXEMBOURG

* The Dutch Authority for Consumers and Markets has given approval for the acquisition of T-Mobile Netherlands' Vodafone Thuis, reports De Telegraaf. The European Commission had set the sale of Vodafone Thuis as a requirement for the future merger between Vodafone Netherlands and Liberty Global plc's Ziggo NV to be approved.

* Dutch telecommunications equipment provider T-Systems has appointed Saka Algra as managing director as of Jan. 1, 2017, reports Emerce. Algra will replace Casper Malig, who will continue to fulfill his role as vice president sales and service management EMEA.

* Dutch provider Kabel Noord has made its Live TV app available for Chromecast 1 or 2 users, Telecompaper reports.

* A majority of the Dutch Lower House will approve a stricter version on a new law on cyber criminality, whereby software leaks have to be reported immediately and the police would have the power to hack or control the computers and phones of suspects, writes Nu.nl. The new law would require the police to inform the company of the leak right away.

NORDIC COUNTRIES

* The board of Telenor ASA has voted to support and retain Sigve Brekke as CEO, reports e24.no. Despite a rift between Chairman Gunn Wærsted and Brekke, Telenor's board backed the CEO to remain and lead the implementation of its new development strategy.

* Norway's Trade and Industry Minister Monica Mæland has described Telenor as a company "in a difficult situation," reports Aftenposten.

* Elisa Oyj paid €151 million in cash to buy 100% ownership in Estonia-based broadband and cable-TV firm Starman AS, Elisa said in a statement. The shares were bought from Starman's Nordic owners Polaris Invest and Com Holding Ab.

* Sweden's state-run transport administration Trafikverket Ab plans to target workers being laid-off by Ericsson AB in group downsizing in Sweden, reports Dagens Industri. Trafikverket plans to recruit up to 2,000 extra workers to support major road, rail and aviation-related infrastructure investments across Sweden.

* Nokia Corp.-brand phones licensed through HMD Global Oy will carry a basic handset price of US$26 before taxes and discounts, reports Iltasanomat. The HMD Global launch will comprise the Nokia 150 and the Nokia 150 Dual SIM phones. The Nokia 150 has 22 hours of talk time and features built-in FM radio and MP3 player.

* The UAE-based telco du has successfully tested Nokia's Time and Wavelength division Multiplexing Passive Optical Network, according to a Nokia statement. The lab-tested technology reached aggregate speeds of 40 Gbps. It expands the capacity of du's fiber access network by providing additional wavelengths over a fiber that collectively delivers up to 40 Gbs.

SOUTHERN EUROPE

* Altice NV dismissed reports that it is eyeing Portuguese broadcaster TV1, Broadband TV News reports, citing Jornal Económico. However, CEO Paulo Neves of Altice unit PT Portugal reportedly refused to rule out the possibility of such a deal in the future.

* Portugal's NOS rolled out Nos N Play, an on-demand film and TV show mobile app, Telecompaper reports. NOS subscribers will be able to access the service for free during the Christmas week.

* Viacom International Media Networks launched a dedicated app for Paramount Channel in Italy, which will enable users to stream content on their mobile devices, Telecompaper reports. VIMN is a unit of Viacom Inc.

EASTERN EUROPE

* Polish company Systemics-PAB acquired all the shares of Belgian company Commsquare, Telecompaper reports, citing Puls Biznesu.

* Russian infrastructure firm Russian Towers is in talks to either rent or manage the towers operated by Mobile TeleSystems PJSC, Telecompaper reports, citing Vedomosti.

* Ukraine's Volia has been hit by a cyberattack, which affected the company's operations in the capital Kiev, Mediasat reports, citing a Facebook post by the operator. Volia engineers restored the club.volia.com and my.volia.com platforms, as well as broadband access for some customers.

* Ukrainian operator Ukrkosmos agreed to use Harmonic's video compression solution for a new teleport offering as part of its direct-to-home service, according to a news release. Harmonic's Electra X2 platform is expected to help Ukrkosmos deliver more DTH channels with improved quality for the latter's customers.

FEATURED NEWS

* The Daily Dose: Google buys smartwatch OS startup; Viacom, CBS end deal talks: Google acquired smartwatch OS startup Cronologics for an undisclosed sum, while Viacom discontinued talks about a potential merger with CBS Corp.

FEATURED RESEARCH

* Consumer Insights: Nearly half of US internet adults are TV binge viewers: Results from U.S. Consumer Insights surveys conducted over the past several years indicate that TV binge viewing has become common practice for many Americans, especially millennials.

Stefanie Eschenbacher, Amanda Kelly, Charlotte van Hek 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.