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Sinclair still mulling Tribune options; Disney details upcoming streaming slate

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Sinclair still mulling Tribune options; Disney details upcoming streaming slate

Top News

* Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc. said in its second-quarter earnings release that it is still working with its takeover target Tribune Media Co. "to analyze approaches to the regulatory process that are in the best interest of our companies, employees and shareholders." Recently, the Federal Communications Commission referred the proposed deal to an administrative law judge for review, a process that could take a long time and for that reason is viewed by many as sounding a death knell for the transaction.

* While streaming giant Netflix Inc. bundles all of its programming into one service, Walt Disney Co. executives said their strategy to package the company's vast content reserves into separate direct-to-consumer products is a better fit for today's consumers. The company plans to market its Disney-branded streaming service, slated to bow toward the end of 2019, differently from that of Hulu LLC, in which Disney will hold a 60% stake pending its deal to purchase myriad 21st Century Fox Inc. assets.

* AT&T Inc. acquired Chernin Group LLC's controlling interest in subscription, advertising and content company Otter Media Holdings LLC, the four-year-old joint venture between the two companies. Otter Media will become part of AT&T's WarnerMedia unit, according to a news release.

* Fox has left its takeover bid for British pay TV company Sky PLC unchanged at £14 per share, triggering a new bidding period under U.K. takeover rules. According to an offer document, Fox formalized its offer for the 61% of Sky that it does not already own, valuing Sky at £24.5 billion.

Broadcast

* CBS Corp. will fold its investigation of harassment allegations at CBS News into a broader probe into the culture of the media company, CBS News reports. CBS Corp.'s board recently hired law firms Covington & Burling and Debevoise & Plimpton to investigate allegations of sexual misconduct against company Chairman, President and CEO Les Moonves.

* CBS Corp.'s CBS (US) picked up a competition series with the working title of "Million Dollar Mile" from LeBron James, Multichannel News reports. The 10-episode series will feature athletes trying to finish an obstacle course in order to win $1 million.

Wireless

* After a decadelong, $21 billion spectrum-buying spree, DISH Network Corp. is running out of time to deploy a wireless network that meets federal build-out requirements. To meet a March 2020 deadline for deploying a network that covers at least 70% of the population in each of its spectrum license areas, DISH plans to spend between $500 million and $1 billion to build a narrowband network specialized for the low-power machine-to-machine communications that characterize the internet of things.

Technology

* Apple Inc. addressed U.S. lawmakers' privacy concerns by clarifying that its iPhones do not record audio without users' consent, Reuters reports. In a letter to Greg Walden, R-Ore., chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, the tech giant said iPhones do not record audio while listening for Siri wakeup commands and the virtual assistant does not share the spoken words.

* Despite posting a drop in daily active users due to its recent redesign, Snap Inc. CEO Evan Spiegel said on an earnings webcast that the company has adequately addressed backlash over a controversial update to its namesake Snapchat platform. The social media giant's daily active users dropped 2% in the second quarter from the previous quarter, down to 188 million.

* Twitter Inc. CEO Jack Dorsey explained in a tweet why the social media company has not suspended Alex Jones or his Infowars conspiracy theorist organization even though other tech companies have. Dorsey said Jones has yet to violate the company's rules and Twitter will take action should he violate them.

OTT

* Disney, Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. and Comcast Corp.'s NBCUniversal Media LLC joined a $1 billion funding round for a mobile streaming service founded by former Walt Disney Studios Chairman and DreamWorks Animation LLC. co-founder, Jeffrey Katzenberg. Investors in the subscription service, known as NewTV, include 21st Century Fox, Entertainment One Ltd., ITV PLC, Lions Gate Entertainment Corp., Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc., Sony Corp.'s Sony Pictures Entertainment, Viacom Inc. and Warner Media, according to a news release.

* Netflix will release "In the Tall Grass," a movie written by Stephen King and his son Joe Hill, worldwide in 2019. According to a news release, the movie follows a sister and brother who after hearing a young boy's cry for help venture into a vast field of tall grass in Kansas only to discover that something evil lurks there.

The day ahead

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

In Asia, the Hang Seng climbed 0.39% to 28,359.14, while the Nikkei 225 fell 0.08% to 22,644.31.

In Europe, around midday, the FTSE 100 gained 0.86% to 7,785.15, and the Euronext 100 rose 0.04% to 1,081.78.

On the macro front

The MBA mortgage applications report and the EIA Petroleum Status Report are due out today.

Featured news

The Daily Dose Europe: Liberty Global, ITV invest in 'NewTV' startup; Fox extends bidding war for Sky: Liberty Global PLC and British broadcaster ITV PLC are among the investors in an upcoming mobile entertainment service tentatively named "NewTV," while 21st Century Fox has extended its bidding war with Comcast for pay TV giant Sky.

The Daily Dose Asia-Pacific: SoftBank eyes US$90B valuation for telecom unit; Bytedance seeks US$3B funding: SoftBank Group Corp. is looking at a valuation of about US$90 billion for a public listing of its domestic telecom unit, while Beijing Byte Dance Telecommunications Co. Ltd. has begun a fundraising round that could value the company at about US$75 billion.

Mediaset Spain bags soccer rights; Netflix, Atresmedia sign content deal: In this monthly Southern Europe Video Spotlight 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: OTT roundup, Q2'18: Digital video continued to dominate headlines in the second quarter, with tech titans, telecom operators and big media behemoths alike squaring off in the over-the-top video arena.

Economics of Advertising: Movie networks present split results in June comScore coverage ratings: English and Hispanic non-Nielsen-rated movie networks delivered bifurcated year-over-year coverage-ratings results in June, based on data from comScore's TV Essentials.

Recent earnings

Discovery having 'a lot of discussions' related to broad DTC launch: Discovery Inc. CEO David Zaslav outlined a number of direct-to-consumer scenarios for analysts on the company's second-quarter earnings call, noting the company was engaged in "a lot of discussions."

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