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Vivendi hooks 20% Mediaset stake; Fox to use scheme for Sky buyout

TOP NEWS

* Vivendi SA said that it has crossed the 15% threshold of the Mediaset SpA share capital and now holds a 20% stake in Mediaset.

* 21st Century Fox Inc. will pursue a so-called scheme of arrangement route to ensure a smooth takeover of nearly 61% of Sky plc stake that the Rupert Murdoch-controlled company does not already own, the Financial Times of London reports.

PAN-EUROPEAN

* Amazon.com Inc. has made its Prime Video service available in more than 200 countries and territories, according to a news release. Content from the video-on-demand service will be available in English, with options for subtitled and dubbed versions in French, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish.

* An agreement between EU states and lawmakers will allow telecom companies to access the ultrahigh-frequency 700-MHz band across Europe that will provide faster wireless internet by 2020, according to the European Commission.

* Discovery Communications Inc. said it named Bernard Ross to the newly created post of COO and general manager of Olympic Games for Eurosport (UK). Ross will assume the role at the pan-European sports network in January 2017.

UK AND IRELAND

* U.K. Culture Secretary Karen Bradley said that Channel 4 (UK) could shift towards in-house production as part of the probable privatization of the network, Broadcast reports.

* The Daily Telegraph of London, through its video-on-demand service Telegraph Now Showing, will air eight shows from Endemol Shine, Broadcast reports. The content will be ad-funded until January 2017 while the service's performance is assessed.

* British production group Argonon hired Kristian Smith, former commissioning editor of the British Broadcasting Corp.'s BBC Comedy, TBI Vision reports.

* London translation company Today Translations is hunting for an emoji translator to interpret the miniature images, The Guardian of London reports.

GERMANY, SWITZERLAND AND AUSTRIA

* ProSiebenSat.1 Media SE has appointed Chief Commercial Officer Sabine Eckhardt to its board of directors, effective Jan. 1, 2017, according to a press release. Meanwhile, Christian Wegner will not extend his contract to serve on the board of directors of the German media corporation and leave at the end of 2016.

* German media group BurdaNews has reorganized its sales and marketing organisation, according to a press release. Patrick Pannen, formerly head of sales at Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, will head media marketing, while Michael Berg, formerly director of commercial solutions at Gruner + Jahr AG & Co. KG, will head media solutions.

* In a collaboration with Munich-based production company Neuesuper, Sky has produced a new German-language drama series that will be broadcast on Sky in Germany and Austria in 2018, according to a press release. The series, "Acht Tage" (Eight days), traces what could be the last eight days of human life on earth.

* Vodafone Group plc has introduced Visa credit card and PayPal Inc. as payment options for corporate customers paying with their smartphone, reports Infosat. Until recently, customers had to buy an additional prepaid bank card to use the service.

* German news programme Tagesschau has revamped its app, according to a press release. Tagesschau said it was the first news app of its kind that could show videos in both horizontal and vertical format while filling the entire screen.

FRANCE

* A report published Wednesday by a parliamentary investigation committee has accused the Conseil Supérieur de l'Audiovisuel of collusion, Le Monde reports, The committee said the French regulator was too lenient when allocating a DTT channel to Pascal Houzelot's Numéro 23 in 2012.

* In addition to the €540 million that Canal Plus is paying the Ligue de football professionnel for the right to rebroadcast its games, it will also pay €8 for every new subscriber, reports Les Echos.

* StudioCanal has sold the rights to its original series "Baron Noir" to German cable and IPTV pay TV channel Sony Channel, formerly Sony Entertainment TV, according to a news release. Season one aired in February on Canal+ with an average of 500,000 viewers each episode.

* Altice NV has strengthened its presence within the SFR Group and now holds 84% equity and 90.31% of the voting rights, reports Satellifax.

* Bbox News reports that Bouygues Telecom is offering unlimited B.tv access to all mobile customers from Dec. 16 to Dec. 22 as part of its TechNoël celebrations.

NETHERLANDS, BELGIUM AND LUXEMBOURG

* Dutch firm Telegraaf Media Groep has received an unsolicited and indicative proposal of Flemish publisher Mediahuis and investor VP Exploitatie for the acquisition of all issued and outstanding depository receipts of TMG at an indicative offer price of €5.25 per share, the company's press release said. The offer would value TMG at €243 million. TMG's Supervisory Board and Executive Board of TMG are carefully reviewing and considering the proposal, the FD reports.

* The Dutch authority for consumers and markets is planning to talk to telecom providers about their differences in subscription prices, reports De Telegraaf. According to the regulator, an easy and fair comparison of prices is essential for customers to make the right decision concerning their telecom services.

* Telenet has renewed its offer of films and series under its SVOD service Play More and now allows users to receive recommendations from a chatterbot via Facebook Messenger, reports De Tijd. According to the provider, it is the first Belgian company to use a chatterbot based on machine learning.

* Dutch IT company Simac will exploit fiber network company HSLnet, and will also be paying the company's interest payments and redemptions for eight years to save the network provider from going under, reports Emerce. In addition, the municipality of Heeze-Leende will loan HSLnet €5.2 million to save the company from its financial troubles.

NORDIC COUNTRIES

* Telenor ASA Chairman Gunn Wærsted has denied trying to force CEO Sigve Brekke's resignation, reports Aftenposten. At a press conference in Oslo, attended by Brekke, Wærsted conceded that despite differences of opinion with Brekke, she wants to maintain a good working relationship with the CEO. The balance of power has shifted in Telenor after its board affirmed its support for Brekke e24.no reports.

* Stampen AB has assembled a new investment consortium led by private investment firms Ernström & Co. Ab, Stena Finans Ab and Provobis Ab, to strengthen the media group's future, reports Dagens Industri. As a result, Stampen will proceed with a rights issue to raise 81 million Swedish kronor in new capital.

* A major corporate organizational shake-up in Telia Co. AB will see Finland and Norway become part of the group executive management from Jan. 1, 2017, Telia said. The new structure is intended to improve business focus and allow the group to accelerate decision making for its Nordic and Baltic market operations.

* Analysts are lowering profit expectations for @Fingerprint Cards Ab in the wake of increasing sector competition and falling earnings, reports Affärsvärlden. The view among analysts in Sweden is that the fingerprint technology company's earnings will decline for the fourth quarter of 2016 and for the whole of 2017.

SOUTHERN EUROPE

* MásMóvil Ibercom SA agreed to continue using the mobile network of Telefónica SA's Movistar, despite an earlier agreement to migrate subscribers of its units Yoigo and Pepephone to Orange SA's Orange España network from Jan. 1, 2017, Telecompaper reports, citing a regulatory filing.

* Telefónica tapped Cisco Systems to boost its network using the latter's ASR 9000 and IOS XR operating systems, according to a news release. The upgrade will enable the Spanish telecom giant to offer automation, telemetry and other cloud-based solutions.

* Spanish public broadcaster RTVE created an online interactive documentaries unit under its audiovisual department, Rapid TV News reports. The unit is tasked to make five web documentaries, the first of which is set to premiere before the end of 2016.

* Telecom Italia SpA denied rumors of redundancies at the company following a recent nationwide workers' strike, Telecompaper reports, citing a company statement. Trade unions led the protest actions against the Italian telco's wage and supplementary pension cuts, among other issues.

EASTERN EUROPE

* Central European Media Enterprises Ltd. named Florian Skala as the new CEO of its Bulgarian broadcasting unit bTV Media Group, Broadband TV News reports.

* Poland's Office of Electronic Communications, or UKE, joined counterparts from eight other EU countries in abstaining from voting over the European Commission's proposed fair-use rules for roaming, Telecompaper reports, citing the regulator. UKE wants the proposed rules to be clear, transparent and implementable by all EU member states.

* Analog broadcasts have been shuttered in 31 districts across Azerbaijan, Mediasat reports, citing Sputnik. The final phase of the analog switchoff in the country is expected to take place Dec. 20.

FEATURED NEWS

* The Daily Dose Asia-Pacific: Amazon takes Prime Video global; TPG wins bid to be Singapore's 4th telco: Amazon's investments in Indian content go live as Prime Video rolls out in more than 200 countries and territories, while Australia's TPG Telecom made the winning bid in Singapore's New Entrant Spectrum Auction.

* US Media & Comm director moves through Dec. 13: S&P Global Market Intelligence presents a rundown of board changes in the media and communications industries.

FEATURED RESEARCH

* Economics of TV & Film: 'Fantastic Beasts' finds more profit than other November films: November 2016 was the first November since 2012 that did not have a James Bond or Hunger Games film. Warner Bros. and Walt Disney did their best to fill the gap left by the two major franchises by launching a couple of potential new franchises.

Stefanie Eschenbacher, Amanda Kelly, Charlotte van Hek and Gerard O'Dwyer contributed to this report. The Daily Dose has an editorial deadline of 7 a.m. London time. Some external links may require a subscription.