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In this list

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RTL Deutschland, AwesomenessTV ink OTT deal; Sky, NBCU unify ad-targeting offers

TOP NEWS

* Mediengruppe RTL Deutschland GmbH has struck a partnership with Viacom Inc.-owned multichannel network AwesomenessTV Inc. The deal allows the RTL Group unit to secure multiple series from AwesomenessTV for its streaming service TVNow.

* Comcast Corp. units Sky PLC and NBCUniversal Media LLC are combining their advanced advertising products under the AdSmart brand. AdSmart's ad-targeting and optimization solutions are aimed at helping companies measure the reach of their ads across Sky and NBCU's TV and digital portfolios.

PAN-EUROPEAN

* In light of the upcoming European Parliament elections in May, Facebook Inc. will set up a 24-hour operations center to be staffed with people taking charge of looking into emerging threats, Reuters reports, citing Tessa Lyons, the social media company's news feed integrity head. The company will also partner with German news agency Deutsche Presse-Agentur to provide assistance in looking into the accuracy of content on the platform.

* Alphabet Inc. unit Google LLC is working on offering better advertising spots for its rivals in a move to circumvent potential new fines from the European Union's antitrust regulators, Reuters reports. The move is in relation to recent concerns that Google's AdSense hampered how third-party websites exhibit search ads from rivals.

* An online fact-checking platform has been launched in time for the EU elections, Les Echos reports. FactCheckEU is supported by 19 partners from 13 countries, including French media organizations Le Monde, Agence France Presse SA, Libération, 20 minutes and France 24.

UK AND IRELAND

* Former University of Cambridge researcher Aleksandr Kogan is suing Facebook for claiming that he misled the latter over the harvesting of personal data on the platform through the academic's personality quiz app, London's The Guardian reports. Kogan argued that the tech giant's claims are defamatory.

* The U.K. House of Commons' digital, culture, media and sport committee has called for a review of business rates and more investments for talent development in the country's live music industry, following an inquiry into the matter. The committee also warned people against buying or selling tickets through online platform Viagogo due to its "history of resisting compliance" with consumer laws.

GERMANY, SWITZERLAND AND AUSTRIA

* Holger Steltzner, co-publisher of Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, has left the German newspaper, Handelsblatt reports. The newspaper's publisher did not cite reasons for the decision.

* Germany's VAUNET - Verband Privater Medien, a private media association, has found that the proposed indexation of a broadcasting fee in Germany to be discussed by the country's ministers on March 21 may be unconstitutional and against European law.

FRANCE

* Bouygues Telecom SA and Dzeta Partners have completed their acquisition of broadband service provider Nerim SAS, according to a statement. Nerim will continue with its usual operations and will get support from Bouygues Telecom's enterprise division.

* Ardian bought a minority interest in software-as-a-service software publisher Eloquant SA as part of the latter's owner buyout, alongside its current investors and management. Ardian's investment will aid in the company's active growth strategy in France and in its international expansion, according to a news release.

* Altice France SA unit SFR has launched fiber optic services in the Beaujolais Pierres Dorées. Financed with SFR's own funds as part of France's national broadband plan, more than 70% of the 6,700 housing units and business premises in the area will have access to fiber by the second half.

NETHERLANDS, BELGIUM AND LUXEMBOURG

* Dutch information and analytics company Elsevier BV, part of RELX Group PLC, experienced a large breach of user password data, Motherboard reports. A misconfigured server reportedly caused the Elsevier user passwords to be leaked, and the magnitude of the breach is still unknown.

* Orange Belgium SA announced the opening of a new 1,000-square-meter data center in Hoboken, Antwerp. The data center is expected to support the increasing mobile data usage of the Orange SA unit's customers.

* Dutch telecom provider DELTA Fiber Nederland BV now provides fiber subscriptions to addresses connected to the existing fiber network of former provider CAIW, Telecompaper reports. DELTA has been providing fiber services for a longer time, but only on newly deployed DELTA Fiber networks.

NORDIC COUNTRIES

* TDC A/S has entered into a strategic partnership with Ericsson to build the 5G infrastructure of its nationwide mobile network in Denmark. The telco said 5G coverage will be offered throughout the country by end-2020, with selected customers to be offered 5G in the summer. The company has negotiated with several suppliers about the forthcoming rollout of 5G, including Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd.

* Nokia Corp. said it has partnered with Vodafone Idea Ltd. for the deployment of the Vodafone Group PLC unit's LTE network in India. The agreement will see Nokia deploying its technologies to simplify network installation and management, enhance capacity and speed, and improve coverage.

* Ice Group AS unit Ice Norge AS said it will acquire the customer base of Norwegian mobile virtual network operator Komplett Mobil for about 105 million Norwegian kroner. Komplett Mobil has almost 75,000 active subscribers.

* Swedish internet of things company Iioote AB, which specializes in long range wide area networks, is expanding its business by opening an office in Stockholm. The expansion is made to meet growing demand for LoRaWAN-based IoT networks in Sweden.

SOUTHERN EUROPE

* Italian state lender Cassa depositi e prestiti SpA has boosted its stake in Telecom Italia SpA to 9.8%, days before the scheduled shareholder vote at the Italian operator, Telecompaper reports. The move comes after CDP increased its stake in TIM to over 5% about a month ago.

* Enel SpA's broadband unit Enel Open Fiber SpA and state lender CDP entered into a partnership with Wind Tre SpA to provide fiber optic services in the city of Lecce in Italy's Apulia region, Telecompaper reports. About 13,000 homes have now been provided with access to gigabit broadband services, while another 20,000 homes will have access to the same internet service in the coming weeks.

* Portuguese operator NOS SGPS SA has invested about €24 million to enhance its customer service in the last three years, Telecompaper reports. The capital expenditure was allotted to bring in new tools, systems and training.

EASTERN EUROPE

* QYOU Media Inc., a Canadian-based digital content provider, joined forces with Polish cable network operator Toya SA to launch Q Polska, a 24/7 linear stream of curated digital-first content in Poland. The channel will be available on Toya's TV service, the TOYA GO mobile app, and will be made available in its free video-on-demand offering, according to a news release.

* Russian internet search engine Yandex NV now owns TheQuestion after it fully acquired Cyprus-based company Znanie Co. Ltd., which controls the online inquiries platform, Telecompaper reports, citing Vedomosti. The financial details remain undisclosed.

* Yandex has also begun open testing of its new social media platform to be called Yandex.Aura, Telecompaper reports, citing Prime. The platform will use machine learning technologies to allow users to find people who have similar interests.

* Serbian regulator Commission for the Protection of Competition would look into potential competition concerns in relation to Telekom Srbija ad's planned acquisition of Telemark Systems, Telecompaper reports, citing Beta news agency.

* Vitaliy Vlasenko has been appointed as the new CEO of Ukrainian mobile operator Intertelecom, replacing Victor Panfilov, Telecompaper reports, citing BizLigaNet.

FEATURED NEWS

M&A Replay: Rostelecom to buy out Tele2 Russia; Italy probing Sky/Mediaset Premium deal: Rostelecom is acquiring the remaining stake it did not already own in mobile operator Tele2 Russia, while Italy's antitrust regulator will probe Sky Italia's proposed acquisition of Mediaset Premium's digital pay TV platform R2.

FEATURED RESEARCH

Economics of Networks: Premium network 2018 growth strong in OTT, feeble in traditional: While the story for OTT remains positive for premium networks, progress in multichannel hit a wall at the end of the year, with a loss of more than five million combined units.

Technology: Erosion of DTH pay TV subscribers causes decline in satellite set-top boxes: 2018 ended with worldwide satellite set-top box shipments at an estimated 120.3 million units, a 13% decline from the year prior.

Anne Freier, Amanda Kelly, Koen Pijnappels and Esben Svendsen contributed to this report.

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