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Orange, Bouygues end merger talks; Vivendi eyeing Mediaset stake

TOP NEWS

*The boards of BouyguesGroup and Orange decided to end negotiations for a possible mergerbetween BouyguesTelecom and Orange after failure to find agreement on certainpoints. In a news release, Bouygues said the two parties failed toagree on the followingpoints: the interests of Bouygues Telecom's employees and the social guaranteesprovided to them by such an operation; the level of Bouygues' equity stake inOrange, and the related governance that would enable it to become a significantshareholder capable of supporting Orange's growth over the long term; theexecution risk; and Bouygues Telecom's valuation.

*French media company VivendiSA is preparing to buy a 3.5% stake in , Le Monde reports.The deal would give Vivendi access to pay TV service Mediaset Premium. Inreturn, the Berlusconi-owned media company and Italy's largest broadcasterwould benefit from access to Bolloré group capital. Vivendi said it hopes toreach an agreement by the end of the week of April 4. Vivendi plans to developplatforms for video-on-demand in Southern Europe, where is not yet firmlyestablished. It is looking for partners, including U.S.-based TV service andvideo subscription company, HuluLLC.

UK AND IRELAND

*British public broadcaster Channel 4 (UK) launchedthe Watch Live feature of its All 4 video-on-demand service on Android devices.The feature will allow users of Android OS 4.3 and above to watch Channel 4channels live. Channel 4 debuted the new All 4 app on Android devices at theend of 2015.

*Ireland's RTÉ hired Dee Forbes as its new director-general, the broadcasterannounced in a statement.Forbes will quit her post as president and managing director of 'sDiscovery Networks Northern Europe, and will take on her post at RTÉ later in2016, following a transition period.

*David Kosse will resign as head of Channel 4's Film4 after 18 months on thejob, Broadcast reports.Kosse will move to U.S. studio STX Entertainment, where he will become thepresident of its new division STX International effective June 1, according tothe report. Kosse will be working out of STX's London hub.

*ITV Plc drama chiefSteve November quit his post, TheGuardian (London) reports.November held the position since 2013, and has been with ITV for 16 years. Thenews comes after ITV announced that entertainment chief Elaine Bedell andfactual chief Richard Klein will also be exiting the company. ITV is currentlyundergoing structural changes, with Kevin Lygo the new director of televisionin January.

*The British BroadcastingCorp. delayed the launch of BBC Studios to April 29 from April 1, The Guardian (London) reports.The delay is reportedly due to management shakeup, as original BBC Studiosdirector Peter Salmon left in March. Departments like drama, comedy,entertainment and natural history are expected to be transferred to the new BBCStudios.

GERMANY, SWITZERLAND ANDAUSTRIA

*German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitungobtainedfrom an anonymous source 11.5 million documents from Panama law firm MossackFonseca. The files, dubbed the "Panama Papers," include informationon how the firm helped launder money for its clients, including Hosni Mubarak,the Egyptian autocrat, Libya's Moammar Gaddafi and many others. Sueddeutsche Zeitung said in a tweet theinformation it obtained comprises 2.6 terabytes of data, 11.5 milliondocuments, and 214,000 shell companies. Due to the vast amount of informationobtained, Sueddeutsche Zeitung hasorganized its research together with the International Consortium ofInvestigative Journalists, a global consortium of journalists.

*German public broadcaster ProSiebenSat.1 Media SE increased its market share forthe first quarter 2016 to 28.1% according to a press releaseposted on Finanz Nachrichten. In comparison to rival broadcasting groupIP-Gruppe, which operates RTL, Vox, Super RTL, n-tv and RTL Nitro,ProSiebenSat.1 increased its market share by 4.3%.

*Sunna Altnöder, who has been managing the non-fiction unit at German productionfirm Cinecentrum Hamburg, will be leaving the company shortly to join theFrench cultural ministry in Paris, reportsDWDL. She joined Cinecentrum in 2012as a producer and managed shows including "Terra X: Die Spur desGeldes," "Nicht alles war schlecht" as well as "EinsameSpitze."

FRANCE

*Molotov will officially launch in France on July 11, Les Echos reports.The French startup distribution platform allows users to stream live TVprograms broadcast on nearly every French TV channel via their computers,mobiles or tablets. Content from free-to-air channels will be accessible toanyone, and content from pay TV channels will be available to subscribers ofthose services. While just 1,000 users have tested the service, over 115,000applications have been received. Founders Jean-David Blanc, Jean-Marc Denoualand Pierre Lescure are seeking €100 million in financing to position Molotov onthe international market.

*French national frequencies authority ANFR estimates that 5.5 million TVviewers are concerned by the switch to high definition television, Les Echos reports.The change is scheduled to take place April 5, when TVs unequipped to receivean HD signal will no longer receive a signal at all. In late February, it wasestimated there were 3.3 million TVs left to upgrade with new decoders. Le Figaro reportsthat at last count, ANFR estimated that 800,000 households could be left withoutaccess to television if a decoder or replacement TV was not purchased, LeFigaro reports.

*BFM TV unveiled a new visual identity, reportsLe Figaro. The French news channel istaking advantage of the national move to HD to update its image. The new logoand on-air graphics will retain the historical blue, white and orange colors ofthe channel but feature an animated 3D cube. The network began using its newlook on April 3 on TV as well as on the web and social networks.

*Journalist, film critic and author Serge Toubiana is joining the board ofFrench film production and distribution company, Pathé, reportsLes Echos. Toubiana's previouspositions include co-editor of Cahiers du cinema and director of the Cinémathèquefrançaise.

*French producer Alexia Laroche-Joubert will head Adventure Line Productions,one of the top independent TV production companies in France, reportsLe Figaro. She succeeds FranckFirmin-Guion, who has held the post since 2008 and is leaving to devote time tonew projects.

NETHERLANDS, BELGIUM, ANDLUXEMBOURG

*KPN NV subsidiaryInterned Services acquired Dutch cloud service providers Redbee and Fortytwo, reportsHet Financieele Dagblad. Financialdetails were not disclosed. Amsterdam-based Redbee was founded in 2001 andfocuses on designing and building scalable and secure infrastructure. Fortytwo,founded two years earlier, also in Amsterdam, builds systems and networks thattogether form an ICT infrastructure. Both founders sold all their shares,according to the report.

*Liberty Global plc'sZiggo NV upgradedmobile subscriptions in the Netherlands, reportsTotaalTV. The number of call minutes in the package Ziggo Mobiel Ruim increasedto 500 from 300, while the price for Ziggo Mobiel Enorm has been reduced to €25from €30 and data bundle Ziggo Mobiel Familie was raised to 8 GB from 6 GB.

*The four Dutch mobile operators who own a 4G network plan to offer theircustomers VoLTE service in 2016, website TotaalTV reports.Tele2 Netherlands HoldingNV has started a pilot and expects to offer customers VoLTE thissummer. Vodafone will introduce the new service in September. 's T-MobileNetherlands will follow in the fourth quarter. KPN will begin offering VoLTE atan unspecified date in 2016.

*Ziggo is offering its Replay TV service through the Horizon Go app,Telecompaper reports.Replay TV makes it possible to view programs from the past seven days. Untilnow the option was only available for Ziggo customers with Horizon TV subscriptionand Horizon Media box.

NORDIC COUNTRIES

*The Swedish private equity fund EQT bought a majority stake in the Danish techcompany Sitecore, according to a news release.The deal values Sitecore at about €1 billion. The size of the stake EQTacquired was not disclosed. Sitecore provides content management systems to itscustomers. The transaction is subject to approval from regulatory authorities,and is expected to close in the second quarter of 2016.

*Swedish music company Kobalt saw a 25.6% growth in revenues in 2015, to $245.1million, Music Business Worldwide reports.Kobalt CEO Willard Ahdritz said that the company expects to double its revenuesin the next two years. The company has developed aplatform which simplifies the processes that control how artists andsongwriters are paid, and runs its own music publishing company and recordcompany, and offers payment solutions to the music business.

*Swedish game production company Paradox Interactive executed a stock split inpreparation for an upcoming IPO, DI Digital reports.Every share in the company has been split into 1,000 shares, according to informationfrom the Swedish Companies' Registration Office. This means that there will be105 million shares in Paradox at the time of the IPO, which is expected by theend of the second quarter.

SOUTHERN EUROPE

*Turkcell launchedLTE-Advanced services, branded as 4.5G, Total Telecom reports. The Turkishmobile operator rolled out the  servicein 81 city centers across Turkey. Turkcell did not reveal pricing details forthe service but said it will give "significantly higher data quotas"for a fractional rate increase.

*Italian state broadcaster RAI is aiming to broadcast all of its 14 TV channelsin HD quality by the end of 2016, Advanced Television reports,citing Il Sole 24 Ore. Rai Movie HDand Rai Premium HD will reportedly debut in May, while another seven channelswill launch HD versions in the second half of the year. At the moment, onlyfive of RAI's channels are available in HD.

*Discovery Networks named Vera Buzanello general manager and executive vicepresident of Discovery Networks Iberia, Digital TV Europe reports.Buzanello will oversee the distribution of Discovery's local channels in Spainand Portugal. She will replace former country manager Fernando Jerez.

EASTERN EUROPE

*Russia's JSC Gazprom-MediaHolding acquired an additional 7.5% holding in for 11.12 billionRussian rubles, Broadband TV News reports,citing Kommersant. Gazprom Mediareportedly bought the stake from businessman and Rossiya Bank investor GennadyTimchenko, who in turn purchased the holding from Luxembourg's as part of a deal involvingRussian channel Ren TV. Gazprom Media owns direct-to-home operator .

*German automotive-themed channel Motorvision TV expanded its footprint acrossEurope, the Middle East and North Africa, according to a news release.Subscribers of Liberty Global plc's UPC Romania and ZABAVA I TO in Croatia will be able toaccess Motorvision TV. The network also debuted on Vodafone Home's TV service,operated by Vodafone GroupPlc unit VodafoneGreece. Meanwhile, Motorvision TV renewed its distribution dealwith Cosmote SA's OTETV.

*Tele2 Russia launcheda corporate telephone exchange service for business clients in the city andregion of Moscow, Telecompaper reports.Among its features are a multichannel telephone number for simultaneousincoming calls, as well as further call routing to mobile numbers of companystaff.

*Poland's Office of Electronic Communications, or UKE, is hoping to complete thereallocation of spectrum rejected by Netnet by the end of April or the middleof May, Total Telecom reports.Netnet won a 5 MHz block of 800 MHz in UKE's LTE spectrum auction in 2015.Under the auction guidelines, the spectrum should be sold to second-highestbidder T-Mobile Poland.

FEATURED NEWS

: Embattled Telecom Italia may be on the vergeof a turnaround as boosts to Italy's digital economy come to the fore.

: As regional sportsnetworks owned by FOX Sports gear up for in-market streaming of MLB games,baseball continues negotiations with other owners of other RSNs to bring TVEverywhere to local markets during the 2016 season.

: Short on informationabout demos, Comedy Central's upfront went long on laughs as the network's toptalent provided new perspectives on multiplatform and product integrationopportunities. up for in-market streaming of MLB games, baseball continuesnegotiations with other owners of other RSNs to bring TV Everywhere to local marketsduring the 2016 season.

: SNL Kagan presents a roundup of recent programming announcementsfrom various international networks and online video platforms.

: Media and communications stockswere generally up for the week as the first quarter came to a close, but thereis plenty of food for the bears as Japan's leading index tanks.

: It is becomingincreasingly more difficult to parse fact from fiction in the world of media,entertainment and communications. But this being April 1, it seems like a goodtime for a pop quiz.

FEATURED RESEARCH

: The first quarter of the box office yearcame to a close on a high note with audiences flocking to theaters to witnessthe showdown between the Man of Steel and the Dark Knight in "Batman v Superman:Dawn of Justice."           

: It looks to be a big month in PPV events,with Manny Pacquiao back in the ring against Timothy Bradley on April 9, theDaniel Cormier and Jon Jones rematch at UFC 197 on April 23 and WWE's biggestevent of the year, WrestleMania 32, on April 3.

: Launched in March 2011, Tencent Video has since been integratedinto Tencent Holdings Limited's vast social media, messaging and gamingnetworks.

: Nearly 8% of the 2,631 U.S. Internet adults wesurveyed in February were still using only a feature phone, with 15% answeringthey still do not have a mobile phone at all, according to our spring 2016survey.

Amanda Kelly, Anne Freier,Kees Pijnappels and Esben Svendsen contributed to this report. The Daily Dosehas an editorial deadline of 7 a.m. London time. Some external links mayrequire a subscription.