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CBS-Viacom merger; Facebook audio access; FTC tech position


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CBS-Viacom merger; Facebook audio access; FTC tech position

Top News

* CBS Corp. and Viacom Inc. agreed to combine in an all-stock merger that will create a combined company with more than $28 billion in revenue. The combined entity will be called ViacomCBS Inc. Existing CBS shareholders will own about 61% of the combined company after the deal, while Viacom shareholders will own about 39% on a fully diluted basis.

* Facebook Inc. employed outside contractors to transcribe audio clips of its users' conversations, Bloomberg News reports, citing people familiar with the matter. Confirming the news, the social networking giant said it has paused human review of conversations.

* U.S. Federal Trade Commission Chairman Joseph Simons is prepared to break up large technology platforms if necessary, Bloomberg News reported. Simons told Bloomberg that any antitrust inquiry into Facebook's past M&A activity, such as its acquisition of Instagram, would consider what would have happened to those targets had they remained independent. Facebook said in July that the FTC has been investigating the company over antitrust concerns. Facebook is also subject to a U.S. Department of Justice antitrust review of leading online platforms.

* Shares in Apple Inc. surged Aug. 13 after the Trump administration delayed sweeping tariffs on a number of Chinese imports, including cell phones and laptops. Apple stock gained 4.23% on Aug. 13 to close at $208.97 after the U.S. Trade Representative's Office said it would delay a 10% tariff on certain groups of Chinese products until Dec. 15. The tariffs had been set to take effect Sept. 1 for $300 billion of Chinese goods.

Internet & OTT

* A group of LGBT video creators sued Google LLC and its video unit YouTube for allegedly discriminating against them by hindering their ability to sell ads, The Washington Post reports. According to the group, YouTube's algorithm and human reviewers took down content that contained LGBT-related words, causing the group to lose advertising revenue.

* Online companies such as Google, Facebook and Inc. will testify at a U.S. government hearing on Aug. 19 in relation to France's digital services tax, Reuters reports. Jennifer McCloskey, vice president for policy at Information Technology Industry Council, which represents the companies, will testify that the tax represents a "troubling precedent" and it may impact U.S.-headquartered companies.

* Twitter Inc. is testing a feature that would allow users to follow topics with well-engaged tweets from a variety of accounts, TechCrunch reports. While the microblogging service is curating the overall topics manually, it plans to use machine learning to keep the topics up to date.

* Netflix Inc. ordered young adult series "Ginny & Georgia," Variety reports. The 10-episode season is scheduled to launch on the streaming platform in 2020.

* IHeartMedia Inc.'s iHeartPodcast Network will carry an exclusive slate of portfolio-wide, co-produced publisher podcasts from Group Nine Media Inc., according to a news release. The new slate will include at least one podcast from each of Group Nine's four brands: NowThis, The Dodo, Seeker and Thrillist, as well as one from JASH.


* The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration banned select models of MacBook Pro laptops on flights because of overheating of the batteries, Reuters reports, citing an emailed statement by the agency's spokesman. The FAA has warned airlines about certain 15-inch MacBook Pro laptops that were recalled by Apple in June.

* Snap Inc. unveiled Spectacles 3, the latest iteration of its Spectacles sunglasses. The new $380 sunglasses feature two HD cameras with 3D effects, the company said.

* Qualcomm Inc. appointed former Palo Alto Networks Inc. Chairman and CEO Mark McLaughlin as its new chairman. McLaughlin replaced Jeffrey Henderson, who will remain on the board and lead its audit committee.

* Oculus VR LLC co-founder Nate Mitchell is leaving Facebook. Mitchell was the social media company's head of virtual reality product and announced the move in a tweet.


* NBCUniversal LLC ordered an additional three episodes for the third season of NBC (US) series "Good Girls," according to Variety. The additional episodes will bring season three's episode count to 16.

* Lions Gate Entertainment Corp. appointed Scott Herbst as the new head of scripted development for Lionsgate Television Group, Variety reports. The company named Jocelyn Sabo senior vice president of television.

* Walt Disney Co.'s ABC Entertainment tapped Simran Sethi to be executive vice president of development and content strategy, effective Aug. 19, Variety reports, citing a company statement. In this role, Sethi will head all of ABC (US)'s scripted comedy, drama, and long-form series development in addition to developing new content strategies for the network.

The day ahead

Early morning futures indicators pointed to a lower opening for the U.S. market.

In Asia, Hang Seng ticked 0.08% higher to 25,302.28, while the Nikkei 225 gained 0.98% to 20,655.13.

In Europe, around midday, the FTSE 100 fell 0.97% to 7,180.47, and the Euronext 100 dropped 1.25% to 1,028.66.

On the macro front

The U.S. import and export prices report, the Atlanta Fed business inflation expectations report and the U.S. Energy Information Administration petroleum status report are due out today.

Click here to read about today's financial markets, setting out the factors driving stocks, bonds and currencies around the world ahead of the New York open.

Featured news

The Daily Dose Europe: Spain's OTT tax; Google antitrust complaint; Vodafone's 5G rollout in Ireland: The Spanish government is proposing a tax on streaming services; Google is facing an antitrust complaint over its job listings tool; and Vodafone Group PLC has rolled out 5G services in certain portions of Ireland.

The Daily Dose Asia-Pacific: Huawei's US lobbying; Korea/Japan trade tiff update; Inventec's China exit plans: Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. has tapped law firm Sidley Austin to lobby on its behalf in the U.S., South Korea is mulling controlling the export of DRAM chips to Japan, and Inventec Corp. will move its entire U.S.-bound laptop operation out of China.

Hires and Fires Asia-Pacific: Huawei linked to top HSBC execs' exit; WarnerMedia names Asia networks president: The exit of two high-level HSBC executives is being linked to the arrest of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou in Canada, while WarnerMedia appointed a Turner executive to become president of its APAC entertainment networks.

Featured research

Economics of Networks: Big strategy decisions ahead for Viacom as it moves into the CBS fold: Now that the CBS acquisition of Viacom has been cemented, the focus will be integration, creating synergies and building out a direct-to-consumer strategy around Viacom content.

Multichannel Trends: July 2019 cable system sales summary: Two deals were added to our database in July: the acquisitions of Eagle Communications and Vyve Broadband LLC by a private equity group consisting of GTCR and Mega Broadband Investments.

Multichannel Trends: Databook: Benchmarking Cable TV Advertising Statistics: Download Kagan's exclusive new Excel database with U.S. MSO operating stats, top 20 MSOs projections, ad executives, interconnects, directories and more.

Wireless Investor: 32 million subs are at risk through tower disconnection in Nigeria: Based on historical tower transactions in Nigeria, authorities could lose up an estimated $1.4 billion worth of infrastructure in the decommissioning of 8,850 towers.

Wireless Investor: In price-per-GB showdown, Sprint, T-Mobile log best deals: Average price per GB of mobile data in the U.S. dropped from March to July — not due to decreasing prices but to larger buckets of data.

Broadcast Investor: Public trading multiples: TV stocks fall under high-profile disputes: Broadcast stocks were mixed in July as investors worry about core advertising trends while U.S. and China trade tensions rise and a number of high-profile retrans and carriage disputes spur talk in Congress of potential regulatory changes.

Recent earnings

Hon Hai's Q2 profit drops 2.50% YOY: Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. Ltd., a Taiwanese electronics-maker and supplier to Apple, reported a 2.50% drop in net income in the second quarter.

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