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'French Netflix' nears launch; Kinnevik to distribute MTG shares

TOP NEWS

* France Télévisions SA, Groupe M6 and TF1 Group have agreed to launch a French-style Netflix Inc., Le Figaro reports. An announcement of the subscription video-on-demand service, with two subscription tiers at €1.99 and €6.99 per month, is expected shortly.

* Swedish investment firm Kinnevik AB, which is the biggest shareholder in Modern Times Group AB, said it is proposing to distribute all its shares in MTG to its own shareholders. The move is a pro-competitive measure, in a bid to expedite clearance of the proposed merger between Tele2 AB and Com Hem Holding AB. Kinnevik is the largest shareholder in both Tele2 and Com Hem.

PAN-EUROPEAN

* The European Commission announced that it has appointed 52 experts who would be responsible for setting up the European AI Alliance, a collaboration platform to form a community of stakeholders. The group is also expected to provide the EC with advice on matters related to artificial intelligence and to implement the European approach on AI.

UK AND IRELAND

* British telecom regulator Ofcom named Chris Holmes deputy chairman of Channel 4 (UK). Holmes, currently a nonexecutive director at the public broadcaster, will take over for MT Rainey whose term ended in December 2017.

* Meanwhile, Ofcom has also released its first progress report on the legal separation of infrastructure company Openreach Ltd. from British Telecom. The report has found that while progress has been made in terms of dropping the BT brand and implementing compliance procedures on the separation, the process has yet to be finalized due to issues with BT's pension scheme affecting Openreach employees.

* Presenters at the British Broadcasting Corp. are protesting the broadcaster's move to switch them to a staff payroll, which leaves them facing higher taxes, U.K.'s The Times reports, citing sources. Many of the presenters were reportedly reclassified as employees after agreeing to undergo official revenue tests in 2017.

GERMANY, SWITZERLAND AND AUSTRIA

* German minister presidents have unanimously decided on a reform of the telemedia mandate that regulates what broadcasters ARD and ZDF (DE) are allowed to do with online content. The German Bundesverbands Deutscher Zeitungsverleger welcomed the move. Meanwhile, the German Arbeitsgemeinschaft Dokumentarfilm, Bundesverband Regie, Spitzenorganisation der Filmwirtschaft and Verband Deutscher Drehbuchautoren criticized the planned reforms.

* German publisher Bastei Lübbe AG announced a loss of €18 million in its latest financial results, blaming high write-downs on manuscript inventory, subsidiaries and an unsuccessful computer game project.

FRANCE

* Orange SA and Altice NV's SFR Group SA reached an agreement for the deployment of very high-speed broadband, Le Monde reports. SFR obtains 1.2 million more connections, in addition to the 1.4 million it already had been assigned. The contract is under review by telecom regulator ARCEP which will issue an opinion early on the week of June 18.

* Bouygues SA acknowledged it has been in contact with Altice over a potential merger between Bouygues Telecom SA and SFR, but "without proceeding any further," La Tribune reports. The statement was made in reaction to a report on Le Canard Enchaîné about a meeting between Bouygues CEO Martin Bouygues and Altice owner Patrick Drahi.

NETHERLANDS, BELGIUM AND LUXEMBOURG

* Belgian coalition parties N-VA and CD&V have voiced their concerns on the plan of Telecom Minister Alexander De Croo to open up the Belgian telecom market to a fourth operator, De Tijd reports. The parties reportedly agree with earlier comments by the CEOs of Proximus and Liberty Global PLC's Telenet, who argue that more competition will impede investments and therefore not promote Belgian network quality.

* Orange Belgium has notified customers of a data breach that took place in May, Techzine reports. The Orange data breach reportedly is the first one in Belgium since the introduction of the EU General Data Protection Regulation, which forces companies to notify customers of data breaches within 72 hours after discovery.

* Telenet said it will raise prices of most mobile and fixed services, effective July 23, to compensate for increasing investment costs. Telenet states that, although a consumer price increase is never desirable, it is considered to be the only option at the moment.

* Google Inc. bought 70 hectares of land in the Dutch province of Noord-Holland, Bloomberg News reports. The Alphabet Inc. unit reportedly said it is considering to build a data center on the property.

* Telegraaf Media Groep NV's De Telegraaf advised users of online platform EXTRA to change their password, but emphasized that no personal data has been stolen, Nu.nl reports. The warning reportedly resulted from suspicious login attempts in the platform's system.

NORDIC COUNTRIES

* MTG's Nordic Entertainment Group said it has been awarded the exclusive rights to show live coverage of Premier League matches for the 2019-20 to 2021-22 seasons in Sweden, Denmark and Finland. The price of the deal has not been made public. MTG has held these rights since 2010 in Sweden and Denmark, and since 2016 in Finland.

* Swedish telecom regulator PTS said the five largest operators in Sweden need to be more proactive in the work against privacy breaches. The watchdog found that the operators all have a systematic approach to reporting integrity incidents internally and that the routines are satisfactory, but said that there is still scope to further develop their ability to identify such incidents quickly.

* TDC A/S' operator company YouSee A/S said it has struck a collaboration with cooperative supermarket chain Coop to offer mobile services to Coop's members. The supermarket chain has decided to shut down its own mobile operations. Coop members with a YouSee subscription will be given a 5% rebate, while new subscribers will be given a bonus of 250 Danish kroner in their first month.

SOUTHERN EUROPE

* Eleven Sports Network Ltd. said it has acquired rights to air French football Ligue 1 Conforama in Portugal for three years. Matches from Coupe de la Ligue and Trophee des Champions are also part of the deal. Portuguese cable operator Nowo will distribute Eleven Sports' channels in Portugal under a carriage deal between the companies.

* Ticketmaster Entertainment Inc. said it has appointed Daniel Bei as the managing director of its Italian unit, which launched in November 2017. Ticketmaster is a unit of Live Nation Entertainment Inc.

* Italy's scheduled auction for 5G frequencies will push through amid filed complaints companies Mediaset SpA and Cairo Communication SpA, Reuters reports, citing a statement from Agcom Commissioner Antonio Nicita. The concerns by the broadcasting companies regarding the rules for the auctions may be addressed at the ministry level, according to the commissioner.

* Telefónica SA, Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. and Universidad Politécnica de Madrid have collaborated to conduct a field trial of the application of quantum cryptography on commercial optical networks, according to a news release. The use of cryptography is intended to provide secure communications by encrypting data using a secure key.

EASTERN EUROPE

* Russian pay TV operator Tricolor TV will offer its services, such as digital TV and gaming applications, over the internet beginning in July, Broadband TV News reports, citing Kommersant. The over-the-top service will be available for 2,000 Russian rubles per year.

* Akado Telecom has begun testing its new esports platform called Akado Arena, Telecompaper reports, citing Cnews.ru. Akado Telecom's subscribers may register on the platform by mid-June.

* Over-the-top solutions provider OwnZones Media Network Inc. is moving its headquarters to Bucharest, Romania, Broadband TV News reports. The company has also appointed Andreea Dumitru as director of project management, Andrei Ionescu as technical project manager and Iulian Fenici as technical lead.

FEATURED NEWS

Hires and Fires: Verizon CEO to retire; DC Entertainment loses president; Lasseter to leave Pixar: Lowell McAdam is retiring as CEO of Verizon. Diane Nelson, president of DC Entertainment and president of Time Warner unit Warner Bros. Consumer Products, will leave the company.

Hires and Fires Europe: Gavin Patterson quitting as BT CEO; ProSiebenSat.1 COO resigns: S&P Global Market Intelligence presents a biweekly rundown of executive and board changes in the European media and communications industries.

FEATURED RESEARCH

Global Multichannel: Global markets update — Australia, India, Philippines, Bolivia: Kagan published updated Global Multichannel & Broadband analysis for four markets.

Anne Freier, Sylvia Edwards Davis, Koen Pijnappels and Esben Svendsen contributed to this report.

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