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FTC to refund $88M in AT&T case; Amazon not planning 2,000 grocery stores

Top News

* The Federal Trade Commission will refund more than $88 million to more than 2.7 million AT&T Inc. customers as part of a case into mobile cramming. The agency said it will refund the affected customers through bill credits within the next 75 days, while more than 300,000 former customers will receive a check.

* Amazon.com Inc. dismissed a recent report by The Wall Street Journal that suggested the online retailer planned to open 2,000 grocery stores, or set up 30,000-square-foot to 40,000-square-foot stores, the Journal reports, citing a company statement. The company said it is "still learning."

* Google Inc.'s YouTube reached a settlement with the National Music Publishers' Association over unclaimed royalties for musical works used in videos on YouTube where ownership was previously unknown, the NMPA said. While the amount to be paid to the publishers and songwriters was not disclosed, a report by TheVerge.com pegged it to be between $30 million and $40 million.

Internet & OTT

* Microsoft Corp. on Dec. 8 completed its acquisition of LinkedIn Corp. in an all-cash deal worth about $26.4 billion. LinkedIn will become a wholly owned subsidiary of Microsoft, the company said.

* Hulu LLC introduced profiles for its subscribers. According to an official blog post, Hulu subscribers can add up to six specific profiles on an account, with each profile having a separate identity, viewing history, recommendations and Watchlist.

* Time Inc. hired Morgan Stanley and Bank of America Corp. to solicit takeover or partnership offers from interested parties, The Wall Street Journal reports, citing sources with knowledge of the matter. The move comes after the company was approached by a group of media investors including Edgar Bronfman Jr. with an all-cash offer of $18 per share, which Time Inc. rejected.

* Time Warner Inc.'s HBO (US) unveiled HBO Now and HBO Go apps for Google's Daydream View virtual reality headset, according to an official blog post. Also, Google unveiled two new colors for Daydream, in addition to new games and an app for Netflix Inc.'s streaming service.

* Comcast Corp.'s NBC News will shut down its online service Breaking News on Dec. 31, according to a tweet by Cory Bergman, co-founder and general manager. The closure of Breaking News includes the enterprise itself, its mobile apps, website and Twitter feed that has more than 9 million followers, USA Today reports.

Film & TV Programming

* Lions Gate Entertainment Corp. completed the acquisition of Starz in a cash-and-stock deal valued at about $4.4 billion. Starz will now operate as a wholly owned unit of Lions Gate, and Chris Albrecht will remain the president and CEO of Starz, the company said.

* Geri Wang, head of advertising sales at Walt Disney Co.'s ABC (US), will retire from the network in March 2017, The Wall Street Journal reports, citing an official statement. ABC has yet to name a replacement for Wang, according to the report.

Multichannel

* Ralph de la Vega will retire as vice chairman of AT&T, effective Dec. 31. Additionally, the company appointed Thaddeus Arroyo CEO of Business Solutions and International, effective Jan. 1, 2017, the company said in an SEC filing.

* Altice NV confirmed is "exploring the possibility" of an IPO for a minority stake in its unit Altice USA. In a news release, the company said it has yet to decide about the structure or the timing of an IPO, and cannot assure that an IPO will even be pursued.

The day ahead

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

In Asia, the Hang Seng slipped 0.44% to 22,760.98, while the Nikkei 225 increased 1.23% to 18,996.37.

In Europe, around midday, the FTSE 100 was up 0.21% to 6,946.08, and the Euronext 100 was up 0.51% to 911.86.

On the macro front

The consumer sentiment report and the wholesale trade report are due out today.

Featured news

The Daily Dose Europe: Microsoft completes LinkedIn deal; Altice eyes US IPO: Microsoft closed its acquisition of LinkedIn, while Altice is looking into an IPO in the U.S.

The Daily Dose Asia-Pacific: KDDI buys Japanese ISP for $702M; HBO Asia making original series: Japanese telco KDDI Corp. is acquiring 100% of the shares of local internet service provider Biglobe, while HBO Asia started production on its first original comedy-drama series in Singapore.

CAPITAL Letters: Media, communications ETFs becoming more niche: Most ETFs track an existing index with half to 80% of the ETFs' securities drawn from entities in the target index. But we are seeing more and more unyoke from a target index to form creative associations in media and elsewhere.

Washington Watch: Zero backing down on zero rating: With its most recent letters to AT&T and Verizon Communications Inc., the FCC has made clear it is pushing forward on its investigation into zero-rating offerings. But proponents of zero rating are not backing down either.

Featured research

Global Multichannel: New SNL Kagan Report: Economics of Broadcast TV Retransmission in Europe: Noise around the development of the retransmission landscape is resonating across Europe, with occasional disputes as well as calls for a U.S.-style regime.

Global Multichannel: AMC's UK network reports positive EBIT during first year: AMC Networks Inc. can now look toward enhancing its schedule after a safe entry into the U.K. market.

The Daily Dose is updated as of 7 a.m. ET. Some external links may require a subscription.