* France will not wait for an agreement with the European Union and will begin taxing internet giants by January 2019, Le Monde reports. Finance and Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire said the tax could represent €500 million in 2019 and will not be limited to the turnover provided for in the European directive, but will extend to "advertising revenues, platforms and the resale of personal data."
* Online streaming giants including Netflix Inc. and Amazon.com Inc. are being targeted under new rules widening the scope of a proposed 3% tax on digital companies' revenues in Europe. Members of the European Parliament voted by an overwhelming majority for the amendments, extending the list of services that qualify for the region's proposed crackdown on tax avoidance to digital content providers. Lawmakers are pushing to have the laws approved by April 2019.
* The European Commission has approved Toyota Motor Corp. and SoftBank Group Corp.'s plan to form an on-demand mobility service joint venture in Japan. The commission ruled that the new company, Monet Technologies Corp., would raise no competition concerns as it will be active in Japan and has no foreseen activities in the European market.
UK AND IRELAND
* British Telecom's BT Sport has agreed a new multiyear deal to carry UFC mixed martial arts in the U.K. and Ireland, Advanced Television reports. Under the new deal, which will begin in January 2019, BT Sport will continue to broadcast UFC numbered and Fight Night events on TV and on its digital platforms.
* Paul Walsh will step down as chairman of Avanti Communications Group PLC in June 2019, according to Advanced Television. Deputy Chairman Alan Harper will replace him.
* The Irish unit of Alphabet Inc.'s Google LLC completed the acquisition of two office properties in Dublin from Kennedy-Wilson Holdings Inc. Google Ireland Ltd. paid an undisclosed amount for the South Bank House and The Warehouse assets next to the mixed-use Bolands Quay development that Google bought in May for an estimated €300 million.
* U.K.-headquartered video software provider Synamedia unveiled its new product, Credentials Sharing Insight, which is intended to combat for-profit account sharing in streaming platforms. Pay TV operators are now conducting a trial run of Synamedia's new offering, which is available as a cloud or on-premise offering.
GERMANY, SWITZERLAND AND AUSTRIA
* Dentsu Inc. agreed to acquire a 70% share in a German video marketer Videobeat Networks GmbH via U.K. unit Dentsu Aegis Network Ltd., with an option of making it a wholly owned subsidiary in the future. Dentsu will leverage the acquisition to expand its video advertisement business in Germany. The acquisition is subject to approval from the German competition authority.
* Deutsche Telekom AG has provided provided internet access of up to 100 Mbit/s for almost 226,000 additional households. In total, 264 municipalities across Germany will benefit from the fiber-optic rollout.
* Over 10 million lines of German broadband networks will have been upgraded to Gigabit speeds by the end of the year, according to German cable operator association ANGA. Of these, 7.3 million lines have been upgraded via fiber-optic cable networks, while about 3.4 million households are covered by pure fiber-optic networks.
* German trade union Verdi has called on workers at two Amazon logistic centres to conduct a strike, as part of a long-running campaign for better pay and conditions, Heise reports. Verdi called on workers to strike at a warehouse in Werne in the west of the country until Dec. 18, while it said the protest should continue until Christmas at the Amazon warehouse in Leipzig. A spokesman said it was possible that workers might also take action at other Amazon locations.
* Xavier Niel, founder and majority shareholder of Free's parent company Iliad, said Netflix will arrive shortly to the Freebox Mini 4K and that developers are also working on the incorporation of the service on the Freebox Revolution, UniversFreebox reports. Niel said the service will be offered at an "extremely low price."
* Industry group Fédération Française des Télécoms presented the 2018 key figures for the telecom sector and the major challenges ahead for the industry in 2019. The report highlights a nearly 40% drop in subscription prices over the past seven years, the only regulated service to have experienced a reduction.
NETHERLANDS, BELGIUM AND LUXEMBOURG
* Dutch broadband industry association NLconnect has accepted five new members, increasing its membership base with providers, network owners and suppliers. New members include CBizz BV, Fibety, Siers Telecom, Spijkerman BV and YouCa.
* KPN NV plans to complete phasing out its Digitenne DVB-T service along with the rollout of DVB-T2, in July 2019, TotaalTV reports. Digitenne DVB-T 2 is currently only available in the Dutch provinces of Groningen and Drenthe, but more provinces are planned to be included in the coming months.
* Tele2 AB has made a 2 billion Swedish kronor loan agreement with the Nordic Investment Bank to finance its merger with Com Hem AB. The agreement includes the cancellation of Tele2's existing €130 million loan from the investment bank.
* Nordisk Film A/S has increased its ownership in Swedish game studio Star Stable Entertainment AB to 40%, from 25%, following an $11 million acquisition of existing shares. The deal is in keeping with Nordisk Film's strategy to strengthen its position in the games market.
* Nokia Corp. has entered an agreement with Telenor ASA to deploy a cloud-native core solution in Denmark, Sweden and Norway, as Telenor prepares for the introduction of 5G. The solution is based on Nokia's AirGile technology and follows the deployment of a cloud-native core solution for Telenor in Thailand, Malaysia, Myanmar, Bangladesh and Pakistan.
* Telenor Norway and subsidiary Talkmore AS are changing their management. Camilla Amundsen is stepping down as head of budget operator Talkmore and taking over from Birgit Bjørnsen as head of the fixed net and TV division of Telenor Norway. Bjørnsen is taking over as head of competence development in Telenor, while the new head of Talkmore will be John Sebastian Slørdahl.
* Sports broadcaster Eleven Sports Network Ltd. assured Portuguese audiences that it will continue operating in the country despite a potential closure of its service in the U.K. and Ireland, Telecompaper reports, citing Jornal de Negocios.
* Telecom Italia SpA and Nokia Corp. have jointly finished covering San Marino with their 5G network. Eight 5G macro sites were switched on across the country, with 5G prime small cells to be installed in several other areas nationwide.
* Telecom Italia's global services unit Telecom Italia Sparkle SpA said it has installed the cloud-based SAP HANA system to help boost infrastructure in its Istanbul data center in Turkey. SAP HANA was developed by German software company SAP SE.
* The Czech National Cyber and Information Security Agency has warned telecom operators against the use of both software and hardware from China's Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. over security concerns. The regulator noted that China "actively pursues its interests in the territory of the Czech Republic, including influence and espionage intelligence activities."
* Russia's CTC Media Group Inc. could be set for another ownership change, with its majority shareholder UTV Holding nearing a deal to sell its 75% stake in the broadcaster to a consortium composed of National Media Group and VTB, Broadband TV News reports, citing Vedomosti. The deal is expected to be closed by the year's end.
* Mobile operator Latvijas Mobilais Telefons SIA is merging its ZetCom unit into its corporate structure, Telecompaper reports. ZetCom is doing business as Amigo and operates using a mobile virtual network operator model.
Research finds social media platforms omitted key info from Senate Russia probe: Two new reports released Dec. 17 found that the Russia-backed operations engaged in more expansive efforts to influence U.S. voters across a wider array of social media platforms than previously known.
M&A Replay: EU approves Thales, Gemalto deal; Turkcell to transfer Fintur shares to Sonera: The European Commission approved French company Thales' proposed acquisition of Dutch digital security group Gemalto, while Turkish operator Turkcell will transfer its shares in Fintur Holdings to Sonera Holding.
Economics of TV & Film: 'Halloween' scares off the January home video competition: It looks like more than just the midwinter weather will be offering up chills to people across the nation as "Halloween," the sequel to the 1978 classic of the same name, is poised for releases on DVD and Blu-ray in January.
Daniela Latini, Sylvia Edwards Davis, Koen Pijnappels and Esben Svendsen contributed to this report.
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