* South Korea's SK Telecom Co. Ltd. and U.S. broadcaster Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc. struck an agreement to form a joint venture that will develop broadcasting solutions based on the ATSC 3.0 broadcasting standard. The venture, which will be jointly funded and managed by the two companies, is expected to commence operations within the first quarter. The new standard promises to combine over-the-air transmission with the benefits of internet-delivered content.
* The U.S. Federal Communications Commission changed the bidding process of the ongoing 28 GHz spectrum auction to six, half-hour rounds per day from the four, hour-long rounds that commenced Nov. 20, 2018, and three hourlong rounds that launched Nov. 14, 2018, Multichannel News reports, as is customary when auction bidding winds down. Although most FCC operations ceased following the government shutdown, the auction is continuing on funds in a separate bucket for auction staffers and contractors.
* With the blackout of many of its stations and cable network to Charter Communications Inc.'s video customers now in its fifth day, Tribune Media Co. CEO Peter Kern penned a letter to viewers stating that the company is seeking a "fair deal" with the nation's No. 2 cable operator and Tribune has "worked tirelessly" to resolve the matter. Charter, meanwhile, said negotiations are continuing with Tribune and "customers can find NFL games on the NFL and Yahoo Sports mobile apps and on NFL Deportes." "Other programming is available online, over the air and on Locast where applicable," Charter added.
* CES, one of the most influential global technology conferences, will take the spotlight in the media, telecom and technology sectors this week in Las Vegas. Smart solutions, with a focus on artificial intelligence, are expected to be featured in keynotes. With 5G technology, the new mobile standard that promises low latencies, high speeds and spectrum efficiencies, bursting onto the scene, companies such as Verizon Communications Inc. and AT&T Inc. also could address the results of their 5G tests in their respective keynotes.
* Speaking at a CES Media Day press conference, HS Kim, president and CEO of the consumer electronics division at Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd., reiterated the company's commitment to launch a 5G phone in the first half of 2019. The speed, capacity and latency of 5G will "transform how we live, how we work, how we play," Kim said during the press conference.
* In related news, LG Electronics Inc. in 2019 will release its first 5G-enabled smartphone in partnership with chipmaker QUALCOMM Inc., representatives from each company said at LG's CES press conference. The new phone will be powered by Qualcomm's Snapdragon semiconductor technology, Senior Vice President Jim Tran said during the opening media event. Snapdragon is designed for burgeoning technologies like 5G, artificial intelligence and "extended reality," he noted.
* Intel Corp. and Facebook Inc. are collaborating on a new artificial intelligence chip that will launch in the second half of the year. The new chips, which will be available in laptops by the holiday shopping period and in data centers by early 2020, will run AI algorithms more efficiently, Intel said at its CES presentation.
Internet & OTT
* Turkey's competition authority is investigating whether the algorithms used by Google LLC in its searches and targeted advertisements broke the country's competition laws. The probe, which includes parent company Alphabet Inc. and its units Google Reklamcilik ve Pazarlama, Google International LLC and Google Ireland Ltd., was launched in response to a complaint that the search giant "abused it's dominant position and made the efforts of other companies difficult," the group said.
* Walt Disney Co. tapped former Fox TV Group executive Joe Earley as executive vice president of marketing and operations at the forthcoming Disney+ video streaming platform, according to The Hollywood Reporter. In his new role, Earley will lead content and brand marketing for Disney+.
* According to OpenVault LLC CEO and founder Mark Trudeau, broadband usage data is one of the most powerful tools cable operators can use to better manage their networks and increase their revenues. That is why OpenVault works with operators to first track usage consumption levels for millions of subscribers across the globe and then implement solutions like usage-based billing. S&P Global Market Intelligence spoke to Trudeau about how broadband consumption has grown in recent years and how operators are looking to both manage and monetize that growth.
The day ahead
Early morning futures indicators pointed to a higher opening for the U.S. market.
In Asia, the Hang Seng was up 0.15% to 25,875.449. The Nikkei 225 rose 0.82% to 20,204.04.
In Europe as of midday, the FTSE 100 increased 1.11% to 6,886.30, and the Euronext 100 rose 1.25% to 931.11.
On the macro front
The NFIB Small Business Optimism Index, the International Trade report, the Redbook report and the JOLTS 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.
The Daily Dose Europe: Google faces Turkish antitrust probe; STV Player to launch on Sky: Google is facing an antitrust investigation in Turkey over the algorithms used in its searches and targeted ads, while Scottish subscribers of pay TV giant Sky PLC will soon be able to access STV Group's video-on-demand service STV Player.
M&A Replay: Xiaomi picks up stake in TCL; Malaysia's edotco buys 325 towers in Cambodia: Xiaomi Corp. bought a stake in Chinese home appliance manufacturer TCL Corp., while Malaysian telco infrastructure company edotco Group Sdn. Bhd. acquired 325 towers in Cambodia.
The Daily Dose Asia-Pacific: SoftBank to cut WeWork investment; Grab books over US$3B in capital commitments: SoftBank Group Corp. will cut its new investment in WeWork Cos. Inc. to US$2 billion, while GrabTaxi Holdings Pte. Ltd. secured additional funding from Tokyo Century Corp., pushing the total capital commitments received in Grab's ongoing series H round to over US$3 billion.
21st Century Fox, Netflix win big at Golden Globes: FX Networks, LLC and Netflix Inc. each earned three TV wins, while Universal Pictures picked up four trophies on the film side.
M&A Replay: Gray, Raycom complete merger; AT&T closes $1.1B sale of data center business: Gray Television Inc. became the third-largest television broadcast station group in the U.S. after it completed its $3.65 billion acquisition of Raycom Media Inc., while AT&T closed the sale of its data center colocation operations and assets for $1.1 billion.
The Program Guide: Netflix scores 5 wins at Globes; 'Vikings' to end after season 6: Netflix scored five wins at the 76th Golden Globe Awards, including best foreign film for "Roma" and best TV comedy for "The Kominsky Method." History channel's drama series "Vikings" will conclude after its 20-episode sixth season.
M&A Replay: T-Mobile, Tele2 complete Dutch merger; Volaris buys Nokia's IP video business: Deutsche Telekom AG subsidiary T-Mobile Netherlands B.V. closed its acquisition of Tele2 AB's Dutch unit, while Canada-based Volaris Group Inc. completed the purchase of a majority shareholding in Nokia Corp.'s IP video business.
Broadcast Investor: Assessing retrans and ad revenue financials behind Tribune/Charter feud: Kagan's analysis estimates the amount of retrans and net ad revenue at stake based on a range of assumed retrans fees and the potential loss in monthly net ad revenue resulting from Tribune/Charter signal disruption.
Technology: Global smart home survey: 36% of service providers offering smart home services: Facing stiff competition from do-it-yourself retail gear and emerging business models tied to products such as Amazon.com Inc.'s Echo and Google Home has not stopped traditional service providers from introducing smart home services or planning launches.
Multichannel Trends: Telco stocks took 2018 in stride until December's wild ride: Verizon, AT&T, CenturyLink Inc., Frontier Communications Corp. and Dish Network Corp. wrestled with a shrinking a multichannel industry to various degrees in 2018, but all followed the broader markets downward in the year's final act.
The Best Of: Kagan research and analysis, editor's picks: Presenting the editor's top picks from Kagan's exclusive research and analysis for the week ended Jan. 4.