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Fox close to buying TV stations from Sinclair; Time Inc.'s UK unit nears sale

Top News

* 21st Century Fox Inc. is nearing a deal with Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc. to acquire at least six TV stations, Variety reports, citing an unnamed source. The deal reportedly involves Tribune Media Co.-owned FOX (US) affiliates in five markets — Seattle; Denver; Salt Lake City; Sacramento, Calif.; and Cleveland — as well as Tribune's The CW (US) affiliate serving Miami. The source said that negotiations are ongoing and the deal, which would be contingent upon the closing of Sinclair's acquisition of Tribune, may include additional stations.

* Time Inc.'s U.K. unit is close to being sold off to London-based private equity firm Epiris, the New York Post reports. Talks to sell Time Inc. (UK) Ltd. began late in 2017 with a possible deal value of about $200 million, but the value reportedly has decreased to about $167 million. Meredith Corp., which recently acquired the U.S. media company for $2.8 billion, said through its spokesperson that it continued to work on a deal for the U.K. unit but declined to identify the buyer.

* The Federal Communications Commission voted Feb. 22 to initiate a proceeding focused on opening up certain high-spectrum bands for commercial use that have long been considered the outermost horizon of the usable spectrum range. Republican FCC Commissioner Michael O'Rielly said he worried the FCC might be acting too soon on spectrum above 95 GHz given that the technology for these bands is "nascent, to put it gently."


* Apple Inc. is working on a new version of its wireless AirPods headphones for release as soon as this year, Bloomberg News reports, citing people familiar with the matter. The new AirPods will include an upgraded wireless chip for managing Bluetooth connections and allow users to bring up Apple's Siri digital assistant with a "Hey Siri" vocal command. The sources added that a subsequent model of the AirPods that could launch as early as next year is planned to be water resistant.

Internet & OTT

* Inc.'s Prime Video is venturing into Latin American original content production through a multiseries agreement with Mexican broadcaster Grupo Televisa SAB and its new premium content unit Televisa Alternative Originals, Variety reports. Under the deal, Amazon will license several Spanish-language series from the Televisa unit, each averaging eight to 10 episodes. Televisa and Univision Communications Inc.'s Univision (US) will get second window rights on broadcast and pay TV in Mexico and the U.S., respectively.

* Snap Inc.'s shares plunged by 6.1% on Feb. 22 after celebrity and social-media influencer Kylie Jenner tweeted that she does not open the company's Snapchat app anymore, Bloomberg News reports. Jenner, however, later followed up with a tweet that expressed her "love" for the app. Shares of Snap and Twitter Inc. both have seen declines following recent changes to the companies' platforms that have stirred strong reactions from some users.

TV Networks

* Facing tough comparisons from the prior-year period buoyed by political dollars tied to the presidential election cycle, U.S. media conglomerates saw broadcast advertising revenue decline during the final reporting period of 2017. The second year of NFL regular-season ratings decreases also impacted advertising results during the three months ended Dec. 31, 2017.

The day ahead

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

In Asia, the Hang Seng increased 0.98% to 31,268.15, and the Nikkei 225 inched up 0.72% to 21,892.78.

In Europe, around midday, the FTSE 100 was down 0.19% to 7,238.52, and the Euronext 100 slipped 0.17% to 1,022.25.

On the macro front

The 2-Yr FRN Note Settlement and the Baker-Hughes Rig Count report are due out today.

Featured news

Deutsche Telekom CEO: Liberty, Vodafone deal in Germany 'unacceptable': Deutsche Telekom AG's CEO warned that Vodafone Group Plc's prospective acquisition of Liberty Global plc's cable assets in Germany risks creating a "monopoly" in the country's cable TV market.

Analysis: Apple's smart speaker playing catch-up to devices from Amazon, Google: Apple's new HomePod device vaulted the technology giant into the smart home market this month, but analysts say the initial product lacks some key features found in other connected speakers.

Hires and Fires Europe: Deutsche Telekom renews CEO's term; Orange retains chief executive: S&P Global Market Intelligence presents a biweekly rundown of executive and board changes in the European media and communications industries.

Reliance, tech giants invest in India; Foxconn unit plans tech investments: Reliance Industries and over 20 global tech giants will invest 600 billion Indian rupees on an integrated industrial area in India, while a Foxconn Industrial Internet Co., Ltd. unit plans to use 27.3 billion Chinese yuan from its IPO to invest in eight new technology projects.

Featured research

Economics of TV & Film: Kagan Box Office Report – Week 7: Marvel's latest film, "Black Panther," stormed into theaters in week seven and led the way to the best weekly haul so far in 2018. Total week seven box office hit $344.1 million, up 56.0% from the $220.6 million grossed in 2017.

Economics of TV & Film: Viacom's unscripted initiative continues to solidify: In a TV landscape littered with content, Viacom Inc. networks continue to make adjustments to enhance programming offerings.

Economics of Networks: Cable Program Investor: Issue No. 243, published February 2018.

Economics of Internet: State of Netherlands online video: Subscription: The subscription online video market in the Netherlands is still growing, with approximately 45% of internet homes subscribing to one or more services, compared to only 28.8% for Western Europe.

Technology: The state of high dynamic range: In the midst of the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in PyeongChang, the first major worldwide sporting event to be distributed in ultra HD, or UHD, and high dynamic range, or HDR, we thought it timely to examine where HDR stands today.

Consumer Insights: Italy 2018 survey summary report: Consumers prefer free TV: The 2018 Consumer Insights survey report documents the slow growth of online subscription video services in Italy, linked in part to consumer satisfaction with free broadcast TV.

Recent earnings

Telefónica CEO says O2 IPO still an option: Spanish telecoms giant Telefónica SA is still considering an initial public offering for its U.K. mobile-phone unit O2 as competition in the British market heats up.

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