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AT&T-Sinclair carriage dispute; CBS-Viacom merger; Facebook on harmful content


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AT&T-Sinclair carriage dispute; CBS-Viacom merger; Facebook on harmful content

Top news

* AT&T Inc. reached a new multiyear deal to avoid a blackout of Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc.-owned local broadcast stations across its DIRECTV, AT&T TV and U-verse services. The agreement also includes Sinclair's national cable network Tennis Channel (US) and the future carriage of Marquee Sports Network, a regional sports network featuring the games of the Chicago Cubs, launching in 2020.

* CBS Corp. and Viacom Inc.'s boards asked shareholders to approve the all-stock merger between the companies. As a result of the merger, CBS common stock will be delisted from the NYSE, and Viacom common stock will be delisted from the Nasdaq. The deal is expected to close before year-end. Following the completion of the merger, ViacomCBS class A common stock and ViacomCBS class B common stock will be listed on the Nasdaq under ticker symbols VIACA and VIAC, respectively.

* Facebook Inc. CEO Mark Zuckerberg emphasized his company's commitment to prioritizing free speech while continuing to crack down on the spread of harmful content on the platform. He said Facebook's chief aim is to uphold "as wide of a definition" of freedom of expression as possible and to remove content only when it has the potential to cause "real danger" to users.


* Panelists at the NAB Show New York conference said the NFL likely will sell a primary package to a tech giant during its next rights cycle as a means to engage with younger fans, while setting the stage for bidding in future negotiations. The existing deals for the out-of-market NFL Sunday Ticket package, now held by AT&T's DIRECTV, and "Monday Night Football" from ESPN (US) expire after the 2021 season, while the Sunday afternoon and night packages and "Thursday Night Football" deals are co-terminus upon the conclusion of the 2022 regular season and Super Bowl LVII airing on Fox Corp.'s FOX (US).

* Entertainment One Ltd. shareholders approved the company's acquisition by Hasbro Inc. in an all-cash transaction valued at about £3.3 billion, or US$4 billion. The transaction remains subject to receipt of certain regulatory approvals and other customary closing conditions, including a final order of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice.

* Hollywood talent agency Endeavor LLC officially withdrew plans for an initial public offering. In a filing with the SEC, the company requested the "withdrawal of the Registration Statement because it no longer wishes to conduct a public offering of securities at this time."


* Verizon Communications Inc.'s Fios fiber internet service lost its monthslong edge as the fastest streaming provider for prime-time U.S. viewing in September when Charter Communications Inc.'s Spectrum cable broadband service tied with Fios for No. 1 with average speeds of 4.52 Mbps. AT&T's U-verse fiber service registered the biggest month-over-month gain, moving up two spots to No. 6 in the speed ranking after its average improved from 4.30 Mbps in August to 4.37 Mbps in September.

* Sports media and entertainment company Whistle Sports Inc. is preparing to bow a linear streaming channel late in the fourth quarter. The ad-supported network will run 24 hours a day, offering a mix of original programming and episodic content, featuring popular social media influencers, as well as movies and documentaries.

* Amid backlash from tech and child protection experts regarding Facebook's encryption plans, the social media giant revealed a two-year project to work out how to prevent minors from being groomed and exploited on its platforms, London's Financial Times reports. Facebook's global head of safety, Antigone Davis, said the company was looking at how to ensure the safety of children while pressing ahead with the move to encryption.

* Snap Inc. is rolling out dynamic advertising in a bid to attract more advertisers, Reuters reports. Dynamic advertising automatically creates ads and target audiences in real-time.


* The U.S. Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai, speaking at a congressional hearing, offered little fresh insight on how to open up the spectrum needed for next-generation wireless networks, though he stressed that the effort should benefit federal taxpayers. As wireless carriers move to roll out next-generation 5G networks and services, the FCC is weighing how to free up spectrum in the 3.7 GHz to 4.2 GHz band, commonly referred to as the C-band.

* Fox completed its previously announced acquisition of a 67% stake of Credible Labs Inc., a San Francisco-based consumer finance marketplace operator. Shares of Credible were suspended from trading on the Australian Stock Exchange on Oct. 16, and Credible will be delisted from the ASX on Oct. 18.

* U.S. tech giants continued to lead the list of the world's 100 most valuable brands, according to a new report that also saw Facebook falling out of the top 10. Interbrand Corp.'s 20th annual Best Global Brands report showed Apple Inc. staying on top of the list with a valuation of $234.24 billion, a 9% increase from 2018, while Alphabet Inc. unit Google LLC increased its brand value by 8% to retain the second spot at $167.71 billion.

* Apple CEO Tim Cook urged the U.S. Senate to pass legislation that would phase out per-country limits on green cards. In a tweet, Cook encouraged the Senate to pass the "Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act," saying that immigrants make this country stronger and the economy more dynamic.

The day ahead

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

In Asia, the Hang Seng was down 0.48% to 26,719.58, while the Nikkei 225 rose 0.18% to 22,492.68.

In Europe, around midday, the FTSE 100 was up 0.02% to 7,184.10, while the Euronext 100 was down 0.24% to 1,093.13.

On the macro front

The leading indicators report and the Baker-Hughes Rig Count 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: UK, EU tech agreement; O2's 5G launch; United Group, Vivacom deal talks: The U.K. and the European Union agreed on a post-Brexit deal on technological safeguards; British mobile operator O2 launched its 5G service; and United Group BV is in talks to acquire Bulgarian telecom operator VIVACOM.

The Daily Dose Asia-Pacific: Singapore's 5G rollout; Korean mergers on hold; Huawei revenue up despite US ban: Singapore is eyeing a 5G rollout in 2020, Korea's antitrust watchdog will further review the proposed mergers of LG U+/CJ Hello and SK Broadband/ t-broad Holdings Co.Ltd., and Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. reported a revenue increase despite the blacklisting by the U.S.

AI's large carbon footprint poses risks for big tech: Advancing artificial intelligence and other technologies at the expense of the environment is not worth it, said industry experts who urged the tech industry to ramp up its sustainability efforts.

The Program Guide: 'Silicon Valley' season 6 gets premiere date; 'Grease' spinoff coming to HBO Max: Comedy series "Silicon Valley" will return to HBO (US) for its sixth and final season on Oct. 27, while Warner Media LLC upcoming streaming service HBO Max greenlighted "Grease: Rydell High," a musical spinoff of the 1978 film.

Hires and Fires: AMC Entertainment CFO to retire; Alaska Communications names permanent CEO: Alaska Communications Systems Group Inc. board appointed William Bishop the company's permanent CEO and president, while AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc. CFO Craig Ramsey will retire from the company.

Hires and Fires Europe: SAP CEO steps down; Facebook's Libra forms council, names executive team: Bill McDermott stepped down as CEO of German software giant SAP SE, while the Facebook-backed Libra Association formed its governing council and named the members of its board of directors and executive team.

Featured research

Wireless Investor: Tower rent outpacing inflation: Average rent per tenant, per month was up 3% compared to last summer while towers grew just 1%, underscoring the ideal dynamics of the tower business even 35 years after its launch.

Multichannel Trends: Databook: Broadband Cable Financial 2019: This edition includes PowerPoint and Excel, a sector overview and a curated selection of more key Kagan analysis.

Technology: VR, AR climbing out of 'disillusionment trough': Developers at XRDC, held Oct. 14-15 in San Francisco, see the industry rediscovering its confidence in consumer and commercial applications.

Broadcast Investor: Public trading multiples: Radio stocks outperform TV on improved ad pacing: Broadcast stocks were mixed in September with iHeartMedia Inc. and Townsquare Media Inc. shares outperforming on better-than-expected core ad and digital revenue growth while Apollo merger rumors boosted TEGNA Inc. shares.

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