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DOJ sets conditions on Gray-Raycom merger; Tencent Music pops and fizzles

Top News

* The U.S. Department of Justice asked Raycom Media Inc. and Gray Television Inc. to divest broadcast television stations in nine markets in order to gain regulatory approval for the companies' proposed $3.6 billion merger. The divestiture markets are Knoxville, Tenn.; Toledo, Ohio; Waco–Temple–Bryan, Texas; Tallahassee, Fla.–Thomasville, Ga.; Augusta, Ga.; Odessa-Midland, Texas; Panama City, Fla.; Albany, Ga.; and Dothan, Ala.

* T-Mobile US Inc. and Sprint Corp., meanwhile, expect their own merger to get U.S. security clearance in the coming days after the parent companies of both carriers agreed to work toward abandoning the use of equipment from China's Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. People familiar with the matter told Reuters that U.S. officials have been pressuring T-Mobile's majority owner, Germany's Deutsche Telekom AG, to stop using Huawei equipment amid rising security concerns about spying from China.

* Tencent Music Entertainment Group saw its shares pop and then fizzle during the Chinese music streaming service's first days of trading in the week ended Dec. 14. Meanwhile, CBS Corp. shares slipped as internal concerns surfaced regarding the sexual misconduct investigation into former CEO Les Moonves.

Broadcast

* In related news, CBS Corp. selected 18 organizations that will receive $20 million that the company pledged to donate as part of its separation agreement with Moonves. The organizations set to receive the funds that were deducted from Moonves' severance benefits include a range of women's advocacy groups focused on combating sexual harassment, according to an official release.

* BeIN Media Group LLC's beIN SPORTS (US) refiled a carriage complaint against Comcast Corp. with the FCC, accusing the media giant of favoring its own sports programming over the Qatar-based company's network. The updated complaint includes additional evidence "to substantiate Comcast's discriminatory practices against beIN Sports and in favor of their NBC affiliates," beIN Sports said in an official release. The U.S. Federal Communications Commission dismissed beIN Sports' original complaint in August.

Regulatory

* Representatives of some small and midsize U.S. wireless carriers said an outright ban on Chinese equipment could be cost-prohibitive for their businesses. While U.S. officials have long cautioned companies against using telecommunications equipment from certain Chinese companies, citing national security concerns, an FCC proceeding indicates that some U.S. wireless carriers still rely on Chinese equipment.

* The FCC could start 2019 still short at least one commissioner. Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia announced a hold on Republican Commissioner Brendan Carr's nomination for an additional term Dec. 13, citing the agency's Dec. 7 announcement to delay funding disbursements from its program to bring mobile broadband to rural areas. Manchin said, "I am putting a hold on Brendan Carr’s nomination until FCC Chairman Ajit Pai can show me how states like West Virginia can access the broadband funding we need to close the digital divide."

Streaming

* Apple Inc. landed a deal with Canadian kids' content company DHX Media Ltd. to produce new "Peanuts" videos for Apple's forthcoming streaming service, Variety reports. DHX and its Peanuts Worldwide subsidiary will develop and produce original series, special and shorts.

Film & TV

* Sony Corp.'s "Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse" was the highest grossing film at the domestic box office for the Dec. 16 weekend with $35.4 million, followed by Warner Bros.' "The Mule" at No. 2 with $17.2 million, according to comScore Inc. data. Universal's "Dr. Seuss' The Grinch" was at No. 3 with $11.6 million, followed by Walt Disney Co.'s "Ralph Breaks The Internet" at No. 4 with $9.6 million and Universal's "Mortal Engines" at No. 5 with $7.5 million.

* Variety reports that "Mortal Engines," in fact, will wind up losing more than $100 million at the box office, citing estimates by executives at rival studios. The sci-fi film, which had a budget of more than $100 million and tens of millions in global marketing costs, has so far made $42 million globally.

The day ahead

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

In Asia, the Hang Seng retreated 0.03% to 26,087.98. The Nikkei 225 rose 0.62% to 21,506.88.

In Europe as of midday, the FTSE was down 0.47% to 6,812.80, and the Euronext 100 fell 0.69% to 936.76.

On the macro front

The Federal Reserve Bank of New York's Empire State Manufacturing Survey, the Housing Market Index and the Treasury International Capital report are 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: Deutsche Telekom to drop Huawei; Facebook faces Irish probe over photo glitch: Deutsche Telekom has vowed to stop using products from Chinese telecom equipment maker Huawei, while Ireland's Data Protection Commission is investigating Facebook over a glitch involving private pictures of up to 6.8 million users.

The Daily Dose Asia-Pacific: T-Mobile, Sprint may drop Huawei for merger; Apple moves to avoid China ban: Parent companies of merging carriers T-Mobile and Sprint have agreed to curb their use of equipment from Huawei to get U.S. security clearance, while Apple is rolling out a software update to address potential concerns.

Data Dispatch: 'Spider-Man' to swing into slow box office as 'Mortal Engines' breaks down: The last few weeks of 2018 could be slower than prior years, but some titles, such as Dec. 14's opening of "Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse" will help contribute to a shot at a full-year record box office.

The Best Of: Media & Comm, editor's picks: Next Gen TV; FCC review of media ownership rules: Stories covering CEO of the National Association of Broadcasters and the U.S. Federal Communications Commission are among the editor's top five story picks for the week ended Dec. 14.

The Best Of: Media & Comm, most read: Facebook scrutiny; Charter's next move in 2019: Stories about growing scrutiny of Facebook Inc.'s handling of data breaches and platform concerns and analysts weighing Charter's next move in 2019 are included in the most read stories for the week ended Dec. 14.

Featured research

Economics of TV & Film: 'Bohemian Rhapsody' tunes up big profit for Fox: The major studios began rolling out their holiday tentpole films at the start of November and several ended up drawing big audiences and box office. The Freddie Mercury biopic "Bohemian Rhapsody" topped the film profitability projections chart.

The Daily Dose has an editorial deadline of 7 a.m. ET. Some external links may require a subscription. Links are current as of publication time, and we are not responsible if those links are unavailable later.