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In This List

Tax changes at Google; Universal Music stake sale; Apple/Imagination deal

Virgin Media-O2 Tie Up, EC Reversal on Three-O2 to Reboot Consolidation

COVID-19 Impacts Incumbent Telco Revenues In Western Europe

Disney+ Ditches Free Trials — Will Other Big Streamers Follow Suit?

COVID-19 Pandemic Likely To Cause US Telemedicine Boom


Tax changes at Google; Universal Music stake sale; Apple/Imagination deal

TOP NEWS

* Google LLC plans to terminate the use of an intellectual property licensing structure that allowed the company to delay payment of U.S. taxes, Reuters reports, citing a 2018 Dutch filing. A spokesman of the Alphabet Inc. unit confirmed the plan, which will be made to adhere to international rules and with changes to U.S. tax laws. The termination is expected to take place "during 2020," according to the filing.

* A consortium led by Chinese conglomerate Tencent Holdings Ltd. agreed to purchase a 10% equity stake in Universal Music Group Inc. from France-based Vivendi SA in a deal that values the total music enterprise at €30 billion. This transaction is expected to close by the end of the first half of 2020, subject to regulatory approvals and other customary closing conditions.

* British chip designer Imagination Technologies Group PLC will provide Apple Inc. access to "a wider range" of intellectual property in exchange for license fees under a new multiyear licensing deal, according to a news release.

UK AND IRELAND

* Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. is considering to open a facility in Ireland, which would become a new components manufacturing base, Dublin's Irish Independent reports. The news comes as the Chinese company sees 2020 as a "difficult year" with an anticipated slower revenue growth and continued U.S. ban.

* Telefónica SA's O2 U.K. switched on its 5G hotspots in 13 new locations, including Manchester, Birmingham and Glasgow. The recent launch brings its 2019 5G rollout to 20 locations.

* Ireland-headquartered travel software company Datalex PLC appointed Deloitte as its new auditor, effective immediately, following accounting irregularities, The Irish Times reports. Roger Conan and Garry Lyons also stepped down as independent directors of the company on Dec. 31, 2019.

GERMANY, SWITZERLAND AND AUSTRIA

* United Internet AG unit 1&1 Drillisch AG extended an agreement to use Telefonica Deutschland GmbH's network for another five years until June 30, 2025, Telecompaper reports. The operators' current agreement ends on June 30.

* Railway company Deutsche Bahn AG plans to invest €2 billion in the expansion of its wireless internet and digital projects over the next four years, reports Spiegel. The quality of the internet depends on the antenna infrastructure along the tracks which is regulated by German mobile network providers.

FRANCE

* The French high administrative court Conseil d’État ruled that the notice by media regulator Conseil Supérieur de l’Audiovisuel to Altice France SA's BFMTV channel is valid, Les Échos reports.

NETHERLANDS, BELGIUM AND LUXEMBOURG

* Dutch radio channel 8FM began operating under the name Classics Only, reports MediaMagazine. The channel, which was still available on FM until November 2019, can now only be listened to nationwide via digital cable, and worldwide via the internet.

* KPN NV processed a record amount of mobile data during New Year's Eve, with its network handling 196 terabytes of data, reports Tweakers.

NORDIC COUNTRIES

* Stein-Erik Vellan became CEO of Telia Norway effective Jan. 1, replacing Abraham Foss, reports Dagens Næringsliv. Vellan was recruited from Telia Co. AB unit's rival Telenor Norge AS.

SOUTHERN EUROPE

* DIRECTV Group Holdings LLC will offer exclusive coverage of soccer games from Spain's LaLiga Santander and LaLiga SmartBank on its DIRECTV Sports channels and online platform DIRECTV GO for Latin American audiences, Rapid TV News reports. The AT&T Inc. unit already provides coverage of Copa del Rey matches.

* Portugal's Autoridade Nacional de Comunicações will offer frequencies in the 700 MHz and 3.6 GHz bands, as well as free spectrum in the other bands, as part of an upcoming 5G spectrum auction, Telecompaper reports. The telecom regulator also approved changes to Dense Air's spectrum license, as well as NOS SGPS SA's request to secure 900 MHz frequencies.

* Turkcell Iletisim Hizmetleri AS said it will pay 122.1 million Turkish lira, including interest, to settle a regulatory probe into its alleged nonpayment of certain taxes for fiscal year 2016. The mobile operator reached the settlement with the Turkish government's Tax Administration.

EASTERN EUROPE

* Deutsche Telekom AG is still in talks with France's Orange and Romania's Romania Cable & Data Systems/Digi over the sale of Telekom Romania Communications SA, Telecompaper reports, citing sources mentioned by Ziarul Financiar. The German operator is waiting for a go-ahead from the newly installed Romanian government, which is reportedly still developing its stance on the matter.

* Several Polish operators retained their partnerships with Huawei despite a U.S.-Poland agreement to evaluate 5G suppliers over foreign government control, Telecompaper reports, citing Rp.pl. P4 Sp zoo, or Play, will launch 5G trials with Huawei on Jan. 7, while Orange Polska SA and T-Mobile Polska SA tapped Huawei to upgrade their telecom towers in Warsaw.

* Polish telecom watchdog is expected to raise as much as 2.68 billion Polish zlotys in 2020, with majority of the revenue coming from an upcoming 5G spectrum auction, Telecompaper reports, citing Telko.in.

* Rostelecom PJSC transferred more than 200 corporate clients in Russia's Ivanovo and Vladimir regions to fiber-optic lines in 2019, Telecompaper reports.

* Ukrainian operator Ukrtelecom JSC is postponing the planned rate hike for its fixed telephony services on Jan. 1, Telecompaper reports. The rates were supposed to increase by up to 24% due to growing company expenses.

* Shareholders of Russia's Mobile TeleSystems PJSC approved a special dividend of 13.25 Russian rubles per share, or 26.4 billion rubles in total, which will be paid on or before Feb. 14. The dividend is based on the company's financial results for the first nine months of 2019 and the sale of its VF Ukraine PrJSC unit, according to a news release.

FEATURED NEWS

Myriad US TV stations face carriage uncertainty as contract expirations loom: Among the contracts set to expire Dec. 31 is an agreement between Nexstar Media Group, the nation's largest station operator, and Comcast, the top cable provider.

FEATURED RESEARCH

Global Multichannel: Western Europe's continued fiber investments could benefit 5G: Operator investments in building out fiber to the home continue to gain momentum in the region, with many focusing on more densely populated areas with faster and higher turnover while other areas remain underserved.

Economics of TV & Film: Global Film Release Report – November 2019: The Global Film Release Report for November 2019 is now available.

Anne Freier, Sylvia Edwards Davis, Charlotte van Hek and Gerard O'Dwyer contributed to this report.

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