* Liberty Global PLC, ITV PLC, RTL Group unit FremantleMedia Ltd. and Lions Gate Entertainment Corp. are preparing to submit separate bids for Endemol Shine Group Ltd., Reuters reports, citing sources. The Netherlands-based company is said to be looking for a price between €2.5 billion and €3 billion, and has begun to explore a sale back in June.
* Netflix Inc. is testing a new tier, called Ultra, to selected users in Europe, Broadband TV News reports, citing Tuttoandroid. The new tier will allow simultaneous content playback on four screens and will support high dynamic range and HD audio.
* The European Union has assigned Telenor ASA with the coordination responsibility for the 5G Verticals INNovation Infrastructure, a project that intends to boost the uptake of 5G in Europe. The project has 23 partners, which includes operators, academia and industry vendors, according to a news release.
UK AND IRELAND
* Viacom Inc.'s Channel 5 (UK) will be adding about 1,500 hours of content to its My5 streaming service over the next year, The Hollywood Reporter reports. The additional content will include those from PBS American Experience and A+E Networks
* Joe Oppenheimer, former executive from the British Broadcasting Corp.'s BBC Films, will be joining Apple Inc.'s international development team, Variety reports. Oppenheimer, who will be based in London, will report to the team's creative director for Europe, Jay Hunt.
* EchoStar Corp. will have a chance to make a formal bid for Inmarsat PLC until July 6, based on the London Stock Exchange's takeover rules, Advanced Television reports. The British company has earlier rejected EchoStar's bid, but the U.S. company quietly acquired about 10.4% of Inmarsat's debt, as well as 3% of its shares, according to the report.
GERMANY, SWITZERLAND AND AUSTRIA
* German TV stations will be allowed to show more flexible advertising in the future according to new EU regulations. Now, the German Monopolkommission has published a new report that proposes the complete cancellation of existing advertising time restrictions, reports DWDL.
* The German Bundestag has decided on the budget for the commissioner of the Bundesregierung für Kultur und Medien. Following this, German public broadcaster Deutsche Welle will receive a €28 million boost.
* Orange SA is collaborating on a venture with NSIA Participations SA to set up banking operations in West Africa, as the French telecommunications company escalates its efforts to diversify into financial services, Bloomberg News reports, citing three people familiar with the matter.
* Swedish engineering company Sandvik AB announced that it has completed its acquisition of French metrology software company Metrologic Group from Astorg Partners for €360 million on a cash and debt free basis. Metrologic Group, which generated revenues of €43.3 million in fiscal year 2017, will become part of the company's Sandvik Machining Solutions business area.
* Orange said it has signed a new workers' profit-sharing agreement with unions CFDT, CFE-CGC Orange, FO.COM and SUD for the years 2018 through 2020. The agreement includes an indicator to encourage employee engagement in environment and energy corporate responsibility.
NETHERLANDS, BELGIUM AND LUXEMBOURG
* RTL Nederland announced a plan to lay off about 85 employees as a result of an organizational restructuring, which is part of RTL's new Fan Centric growth strategy. The company also anticipates more personnel cuts in 2019.
* Dutch telecom providers will have to guarantee a minimum 5G network speed for 98% of the area of every municipality in the Netherlands, Nu.nl reports, based on a letter by State Secretary Mona Keijzer to the parliament. The required minimum speed will reportedly be researched in the coming months.
* The data leak reported by De Persgroep Nederland BV last week included more sensitive data than earlier stated, RTLnieuws reports. In addition to email addresses, phone numbers, banking details and addresses have also been reportedly stolen.
* Deutsche Telekom AG's T-Mobile Netherlands announced the launch of Apple TV 4 app TV Anywhere, which can be used to watch TV simultaneously on smartphones, tablets, TVs, and soon, on desktops. The TV Anywhere app has been developed together with Ericsson unit Red Bee Media Ltd.
* Bonnier AB's Bonnier Business Media Sweden AB has bought Dagens Media Sverige AB, said Dagens Media. Dagens Media Sverige owns Dagens Media, which covers media and marketing issues in Sweden.
* Tele2 AB and Microsoft Corp. has launched an eSIM technology on Windows-based devices in Sweden, according to a news release. Laptops and tablets with eSIM can connect to the Internet without added hardware, via mobile plans application preloaded in Windows 10.
* The Hellenic Telecommunications and Post Commission, or EETT, has approved Vodafone Group PLC's proposed takeover Cyta Hellas Telecommunications SA, the Greek unit of Cyprus-based operator CYTA, Telecompaper reports, citing Greek press reports. The €118 million deal is expected to be completed shortly, according to the report.
* An Italian court could decide after the summer whether Vivendi SA should reduce its stake in either Telecom Italia SpA or Mediaset SpA to prevent a concentration of power, in accordance with Italian laws, Reuters reports, citing two legal sources. In order to comply with an order by telecom regulator AGCOM to cut its stake in one of the two companies, Vivendi had earlier transferred its 19.19% stake in Mediaset to a trust called Simon Fiducaria.
* Telecom Italia has revamped its mobile payment service TIMpersonal, renaming it as TIM Pay, Telecompaper reports. The Italian operator partnered with Mastercard and Hype for the revamped service, which now includes contactless payments via near-field communication-enabled Android smartphones.
* Mediaset España could fall short of its expected ad revenues from the broadcast rights to this year's FIFA World Cup, following the early exit of Spain's national team from the tournament, Advanced Television reports, citing El Economista. While the Mediaset unit expected ad revenues between €2.5 million and €3 million per broadcast match featuring the Spanish team, estimates reportedly show the company would only get around €800,000 per match.
* Portugal's National Communications Authority, or Anacom, published a national roadmap for the reallocation of the 700-MHz frequencies in the country for 5G services, Telecompaper reports. Under the plan, the release of the 700-MHz band should run from the last quarter of 2019 up to June 30, 2020.
* Telia Co. AB said it has named current Telia Estonia CEO Dan Strömberg as CEO of Telia Lithuania, replacing Kestutis Sliuzas who is leaving the company. Robert Pajos will take over Strömberg's post at Telia Estonia on an interim basis.
* O2 Czech Republic as' O2 TV service has secured broadcast rights to games from the top Czech soccer league, following a deal with rights holder Pragosport, Broadband TV News reports, citing a statement. The deal, which runs from the 2018-19 season to at least 2022, covers at least 105 live matches per season that will be aired on the O2 TV Sport and O2 TV Football channels.
* Rakuten Inc. is planning to launch its cryptocurrency in Russia through its Rakuten Viber messaging app in 2019, Bitdays reports.
Techtonic Shift: Large London corporates embrace startup-style co-working: As co-working spaces gain ground in London, the capital's largest corporations are embracing flexible office models once seen as the domain of more nimble tech startups.
Analysts: Xiaomi's Hong Kong IPO to fuel expansion in Europe, US: Xiaomi's much-anticipated IPO in Hong Kong will provide the company with short-term capital for its market expansion plans outside of Asia, according to analysts.
Economics of Internet: Video ad revenues swell for Facebook, other social platforms: U.S. ad revenues for leading social platforms continued to surge higher in the first quarter, with Facebook still miles ahead of its closest competition.
Anne Freier, Sylvia Edwards Davis, Koen Pijnappels and Gerard O'Dwyer contributed to this report.
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