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US carriers deny hacked hardware allegations; Microsoft set to buy game studio

Top News

* Security expert Yossi Appleboum, who currently serves as co-CEO of Sepio Systems, provided documents, analysis and other evidence to suggest that a major U.S. telecommunications company found manipulated hardware from Super Micro Computer Inc. in its network and removed it in August, Bloomberg News reports. While spokespersons representing AT&T Inc., Sprint Corp. and Verizon Communications Inc. said the carriers were not affected by the alleged hacking, T-Mobile US Inc. has yet to comment.

* Microsoft Corp. is in the final stages of buying independent video game developer Obsidian Entertainment Inc., Kotaku reports, citing three people briefed on the negotiations. The Irvine, Calif.-based Obsidian, known for its role-playing games such as "Knights of the Old Republic II" and "Fallout: New Vegas," has been independent since its establishment in 2003.

* Comcast Corp. has become a majority owner of British pay TV company Sky PLC after completing the acquisition of Sky shares held by 21st Century Fox Inc. Comcast now owns 1,321,384,334 Sky shares, representing about 76.84%.

* With high-profile content assets getting scooped up in cross-industry mega-mergers, studio owner Lions Gate Entertainment Corp. may be the next in play. Speaking at a recent investor conference, Lions Gate Vice Chairman Michael Burns acknowledged that when it comes to consolidation, "we're predator until we're prey." Further, when asked if he was surprised that tech companies have not been more active in media M&A, Burns said "the convergence [is] going a little slower than I would have thought, but that could accelerate quickly."

TV Networks

* Covington & Burling and Debevoise & Plimpton, the two law firms hired by CBS Corp. to investigate allegations of sexual misconduct against former company Chairman, President and CEO Les Moonves, have interviewed more than 150 people, The Hollywood Reporter reports. The people interviewed include current employees, former employees and other "individuals with information pertinent to our investigation."

* Discovery Inc. has set up Digital Studios Group, a newly expanded hub for digital and social video content creation. The new hub, which will support the company's global websites, social, TVE and direct-to-consumer businesses and brands, will be led by Vikki Neil as executive vice president and general manager, according to a news release.

Technology

* Alphabet Inc. unit Google LLC unveiled the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL smartphones. According to an official blog post, Pixel 3 features a 5.5-inch screen and costs $799, while Pixel 3 XL features a 6.3-inch screen and costs $899. Both versions are powered by the latest Android operating system Android 9 Pie.

* Analyst Michael Nathanson believes Snap Inc. "is quickly running out of money" and will need to raise capital by the middle of 2019, Bloomberg News reports. "We do not see Snap reaching profitability in the near future unless there are substantial expense reductions," Nathanson wrote in a research report. "In 2019, Snap will have to make some moves to ensure it has the liquidity to stay in business."

* Microsoft Corp. will roll out its expanded Azure cloud service by the end of the first quarter of 2019, Reuters reports. The expanded service, which will help government clients save data on their own servers, comes as the company is competing with Amazon.com Inc. for a $10 billion Pentagon cloud contract.

OTT

* Netflix Inc. picked up rights to a new family action adventure film, currently entitled "John Henry and The Statesmen." The film will be directed by Jake Kasdan and actor Dwayne Johnson, who will also serve as a producer on the film in addition to starring as John Henry, the company said.

* In more Netflix news, the streaming giant unveiled a slate of six original productions from Colombia. The lineup includes "Historia de un crimen: Colmenares," two new stand-up comedy specials from Liss Pereira, "Wild District" and "Always a Witch," the company said.

The day ahead

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

In Asia, Hang Seng increased 0.08% to 26,193.07, while the Nikkei 225 rose 0.16% to 23,506.04.

In Europe, around midday, the FTSE 100 increased 0.01% to 7,238.30, and the Euronext 100 decreased 0.56% to
1,025.23.

On the macro front

The MBA mortgage applications report, the Producer Price Index-Final Demand report, the Atlanta Fed business inflation expectations report and the Wholesale trade report is due out today.

Click here to read about today's financial markets, setting out the factors driving stocks, bonds and currencies around the world ahead of the New York open.

Featured news

The Daily Dose Europe: Comcast takes control of Sky; Netflix eyes more CEE content: Comcast now owns 75% of Sky after acquiring the shares owned by 21st Century Fox in the pay TV giant, while streaming giant Netflix is seeking partnerships to boost content production in central and eastern Europe.

Hires and Fires Asia-Pacific: ABC chairman resigns after managing director's removal; StarHub to shed 300 jobs: Australian Broadcasting Corp. lost two of its top executives consecutively, while Singapore-based telco StarHub Ltd. will axe approximately 300 of its full-time employees amid intense competition.

The Daily Dose Asia-Pacific: Microsoft to invest in Singapore's Grab; Reliance Jio, Zee ink content deal: Microsoft will invest in Singapore's GrabTaxi Holdings Pte. Ltd. as part of a broader collaboration between the companies, while Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd. and Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd. struck a new content deal.

Hires and Fires: Verizon director resigns; GoDaddy founder steps down from board: GoDaddy Inc. founder Bob Parsons stepped down from the company's board, while Gregory Wasson resigned as member of Verizon Communications' board.

Q&A: NY pension fund: More regulation needed on board diversity disclosures: Investors are increasingly speaking out about their desire for meaningful data on ESG indicators. S&P Global spoke with Gianna McCarthy, director of corporate governance at the New York State Common Retirement Fund, about the data issues.

Featured research

Global Multichannel: Cable and FTTP gain subscriber share in LatAm fixed-broadband market in 2017: Adoption of cable and FTTP broadband continues to erode xDSL dominance. América Móvil SAB de CV is firmly on the top spot of LatAm's fixed-broadband market, followed by Telefónica SA. AT&T's DIRECTV is testing fixed wireless technology.

Multichannel Trends: Pay TV penetration in Locast markets brings retrans into focus for broadcasters: Kagan analyzes the state of pay TV in the Locast footprint based on MediaCensus' residential multichannel data.

Global Multichannel: Global markets update — Denmark, Lithuania, Norway, Switzerland: Kagan has published updated Global Multichannel & Broadband analysis for four markets.

Global Multichannel: OTT video trend core to operators' service strategies, spotlights fiber needs: After years of fiber inactivity across much of Western Europe, renewed efforts are emerging that will help plug the gap between the fiber haves and have-nots.

Global Multichannel: Q2 Canadian multichannel CapEx rises on fiber, 5G investments: Capital expenditures for a core group of Canadian multisystem operators rose 3.7%, with multiple companies gearing investments toward improving their fiber-based internet infrastructure in anticipation of launching 5G services.

Technology: US trade ban on ZTE has ripple effect on Q2 fiber-to-the-home, DSL gear market: The U.S. trade ban on ZTE Corp. that effectively shut down the company from April through June had a negative impact on the global fiber-to-the-home and DSL equipment markets during second quarter.

Economics of Advertising: Q2 sales falter but green shoots emerge for Europe-based agencies: The financial outlook for two of the world's biggest media agencies remains precarious, but the quarter brought potential respite to both groups, which are deep into transformation plans.

Economics of Internet: Iflix shakes up Cambodia's OTT space: In a market known for video piracy, iflix Sdn. Bhd. is focused on providing a low price point and an easy-to-use interface.

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