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Microsoft buys conversational AI startup; judge cans FOX News harassment suit

Top News

* Microsoft Corp. purchased Semantic Machines Inc., a Berkeley, Calif.,-based conversational artificial intelligence startup, for an undisclosed amount. The company will now establish a conversational AI center of excellence in Berkeley to work on language interfaces, according to an official blog post.

* U.S. District Judge George Daniels in Manhattan, N.Y., dismissed a harassment lawsuit filed by former FOX News Channel (US) anchor Andrea Tantaros against the 21st Century Fox Inc. unit, Broadcasting & Cable reports. The judge ruled that Tantaros' complaint was based mainly on "speculation and conjecture" and that she failed "to adequately make out the basic elements of her claims."

* A battle over governance of CBS Corp. sent the programmer's shares on a bumpy ride during the week ended May 18, while sister company Viacom Inc.'s stock moved mostly lower after news that CBS' independent directors opposed efforts to merge the two.

Wireless

* The pending merger of T-Mobile US Inc. and Sprint Corp. will result in fewer cell towers, but U.S. tower companies expect increased investment in the ramp up to next-generation 5G technology to make up for any difference in revenue. In the weeks since Sprint and T-Mobile shared their merger plans, the stock prices of the three largest U.S. tower companies — American Tower Corp., Crown Castle International Corp. and SBA Communications Corp. — have all remained relatively stable.

Technology

* AT&T Inc. introduced a one-click ordering product, the LTE-M button, on its LTE-M network, Engadget.com reports. The first 5,000 devices will sell for $30 after which they will cost $35.

* Gender inequality is alive and kicking in Hong Kong's technology sector with industry experts branding the government's lack of focus a large contributor. A panel of two male and two female experts, speaking on the second day of the annual Cloud Expo Asia event in Hong Kong, on May 17 discussed the problems and possible solutions regarding the the lack of female representation in the domestic technology industry.

Internet & OTT

* Netflix Inc. green-lighted "First Ladies," a political comedy starring Jennifer Aniston as president of the U.S. and Tig Notaro as first lady. The series was written by Notaro and Stephanie Allynne.

* In more Netflix news, the streaming company picked up the rights to "Happy As Lazzaro" and "Girl" for North America and Latin America. Both movies premiered at the Cannes Film Festival.

Film

* 20th Century Fox's "Deadpool 2" topped the domestic box office with $125 million for the May 20 weekend, followed by Walt Disney Co.'s "Avengers: Infinity War" at No. 2 with $28.7 million and Paramount's "Book Club" at the third spot with $12.5 million, according to comScore Inc. Warner Bros.' "Life Of The Party" was No. 4 with $7.7 million and Universal's "Breaking In" was No. 5 with $6.5 million.

The day ahead

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

In Asia, the Hang Seng was up 0.60% to 31,234.35. The Nikkei 225 added 0.31% to 23,002.37. In Europe as of midday, the FTSE 100 rose 0.80% to 7,841.15, and the Euronext 100 advanced 0.64% to 1,088.32.

On the macro front

The Chicago Fed National Activity Index is due out today.

Featured news

The Daily Dose Europe: RTL to boost VOD investments; Spanish joint OTT service launches in June: RTL Group plans to further invest into video-on-demand services, while RTVE, Atresmedia and Mediaset España Comunicación SA jointly created a new over-the-top service, launching in June.

The Daily Dose Asia-Pacific: Fujifilm to sue Xerox over merger; Vietnam launches probe on Grab-Uber deal: FUJIFILM Holdings Corp. is about to sue Xerox Corp. over their US$6.1 billion merger, while Vietnam is probing GrabTaxi Holdings Pte. Ltd.'s purchase of Uber Technologies Inc.'s Southeast Asian business for anticompetitive effects.

The Best Of: Media & Comm, editor's picks: NBCU takes Facebook to task; Fox to trim ad load: Stories about CBS, NBCUniversal Media LLC, Turner Broadcasting System Inc. and Fox upfront presentations are among the editor's top five picks for the week ended May 18.

The Best Of: Media & Comm, most read: CBS/National Amusements fight; China content crackdown: Stories about the legal dispute between CBS and National Amusements Inc., ESPN Inc. and NBC (US) upfront presentations and increasing online scrutiny in China are included in the most read stories for the week ended May 18.

M&A Replay: Asia Pacific: Airtel, Telenor India complete deal; Xerox cancels Fujifilm sale: Bharti Airtel Ltd. completed the acquisition of Telenor ASA unit Telenor India after receiving all regulatory and statutory approvals, while Xerox Corp. decided to pull out of its proposed US$6.1 billion sale to Fujifilm Holdings.

Featured research

Economics of Advertising: Outdoor ad revenue up 1.0% in Q1, local expected to step up: Strength in ad revenue demand from local advertisers and an uptick in ad dollar inflow from digital properties drove first-quarter revenue for outdoor advertisers.

Global Multichannel: Comcast bids up on Sky, recognizing unmissable opportunity: The latest Comcast Corp. maneuver suggests it identifies Sky as a perfect horizontal acquisition target.

Consumer Insights: 2018 Sweden survey summary report: Holding on to traditional TV viewing behavior: A Consumer Insights survey in Sweden found that consumers who watch predominantly linear TV, along with some online subscription video content spend more time watching TV each day than those who watch higher levels of on-demand video content.

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