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Banijay, Endemol Shine end deal talks; Google faces antitrust probe in Italy

TOP NEWS

* Endemol Shine Group is once more open to buyers, after France's Banijay Group SAS backed out of plans to acquire the content producer, TBI Vision reports, citing sources. Banijay and Endemol Shine have been reportedly in talks about a possible deal since last fall but were unable to clinch a deal due to the transaction price.

* The Italian Competition Authority said it began a probe into Google LLC's alleged abuse of a dominant market position in operating systems for smart devices. The antitrust watchdog said the Alphabet Inc. unit allegedly refused to integrate "Enel X Recharge," an app developed by utility company Enel SpA, into its Android Auto app. The investigation is expected to end May 30, 2020.

PAN-EUROPEAN

* The European Commission calls for more action from digital companies Facebook Inc., Twitter Inc. and Google to fight disinformation and provide transparency ahead of the upcoming European Parliament elections. According to the EC, the companies need to provide more data to fully assess the effectiveness of their policies, and to further collaborate with fact checkers with the European Union member states.

* RTL Group's video-on-demand services, TV Now Premium in Germany and Videoland in the Netherlands, have grown 59% year over year to more than 1.15 million combined subscribers. RTL said it was targeting 3 million subscribers in 2021, with results being driven by a focus on local original programming.

UK AND IRELAND

* Ti Media Ltd. has sold British music magazines New Musical Express and Uncut to BandLab Singapore Pte Ltd., London's Financial Times reports. The financial terms of the deal were undisclosed.

* Private equity firms Bain Capital LP, Apollo Global Management LLC and Platinum Equity LLC have been shortlisted to bid for a majority stake in WPP PLC's data analytics unit The Kantar Group Ltd., Reuters reports, citing sources. The bidders will have about four weeks to do in-depth checks on Kantar before submitting their final bids, as WPP aims to finalize the sale by end-June.

* Uktv Media Ltd. has commissioned 100 episodes of series, including "Director's Short Cut" and "Zoom," from distributor Prime Entertainment Group, Rapid TV News reports. The series will start airing in June.

* British independent distributor Orange Smarty has sold rights to air British factual documentaries to European broadcasters, Rapid TV News writes. Danish Broadcasting Corp. bought rights to a number of documentaries, including ITN Productions' "Trevor McDonald and the Killer Nurse," while the Netherlands' KRO-NCRV bought series "Dirty Vegan" for NPO3.

* Daily Mail & General Trust PLC has attempted to acquire Irish company Independent News & Media PLC, before the latter took a deal with Mediahuis NV, The Sunday Telegraph reports.

GERMANY, SWITZERLAND AND AUSTRIA

* Sunrise Communications Group AG remains optimistic about the acquisition of Liberty Global PLC's UPC Schweiz given the support of the Swiss operator's investors to the deal, reports Digital TV Europe. The deal could be closed in the fourth quarter, if approved by regulators.

* The German private media association Verband privater Medien expressed potential competition concerns from a merger between Vodafone Group PLC's Vodafone Deutschland Gmbh and Unitymedia GmbH, such as bundling around 80% of cable connections in Germany. VAUNET said that proposed measures by Vodafone should not influence an EU Commission decision.

* Capvis Equity V LP bought a majority stake in Swiss 3D sensor and analytics company Xovis AG from funds advised by financial investor EMERAM Capital Partners GmbH. Xovis founders and executive board members Christian Studer, David Studer and Markus Herrli will remain shareholders of the company, according to a news release.

* ProSiebenSat.1 TV Deutschland Gmbh promoted Thomas Lasarzik to executive vice president of group content acquisitions and sales, Advanced Television reports. ProSiebenSat.1 Media SE owns ProSiebenSat.1 TV Deutschland.

FRANCE

* The GAFA tax legislation is going before the French senate on May 21 and May 22, La Tribune reports. The draft law imposing income tax to internet giants, such as Google, Apple Inc., Facebook and Amazon.com Inc., on income generated in France has already been approved by the lower house of Parliament.

* Microsoft Corp. announced a partnership with Qwant SAS to offer users in France and other countries where the search engine is present to access an enhanced search experience that ensures the protection of users' privacy while improving the quality of search results and advertising displayed. Qwant will come built-in for future versions of Microsoft's Edge search engine.

* Wireless hardware manufacturer Parrot SA announced a turnover of about €17.9 million during the first quarter of 2019, down 19% compared with the same period last year. The company said it expects a significant contraction for its "prosumer drones" business in 2019 and double-digit growth in the commercial drones and solutions segments.

NETHERLANDS, BELGIUM AND LUXEMBOURG

* The Dutch government wants large tech companies such as Google, Apple and Facebook to be tackled more strictly in order to limit their dominant position and urges for measures taken within the European Union, as stated in a letter by State Secretary Mona Keijzer. The government is already in talks with other EU members states about the issue.

* KPN NV will start testing Passive Optical Network fiber technology in the third quarter of 2019, to strengthen the network's performance, writes Telecompaper.

NORDIC COUNTRIES

* Swedish opposition party Sverigedemokraterna is to discuss a possible sale of parts of the public broadcasters SVT and SR, Dagens Industri reports. A group of party leaders wants the party to discuss the sale of TV channel SVT2 and radio channel P3, to make it easier for commercial channels to compete on the Swedish market.

* Swedish subscription management solutions company Minna Technologies said it has raised €5.6 million in a new series A investment. The funding round, led by Zenith Group, will be used to continue its growth plans in Europe.

* Swedish game production company Star Vault AB said in its financial report for the first quarter that it expects to be able to cover upcoming liquidity requirements in the coming year, pointing to market development forecasts and a recent share issue in which it raised 8.4 million Swedish kronor.

SOUTHERN EUROPE

* Mediapro acquired the remaining 50% stake it did not already own in Fandroid, which owns esports league LVP, for €22 million, Advanced Television reports. The Spanish broadcaster also purchased VISYON, a Barcelona-based virtual reality technology company, for an undisclosed sum.

* Cablenet Communication Systems Ltd. rolled out a smart home services bundle that will rely on Plume's Ultra Wi-Fi system, the Cypriot quad-play provider said.

* ICT company Irideos SpA, founded by Italian infrastructure fund F2i and pan-European fund Marguerite, named Danilo Vivarelli as its new CEO, Telecompaper reports. Vivarelli has been acting as Irideos' director general since December 2018.

* Telia Co. AB unit Telia Lithuania said that it has moved to a new head office in Vilnius. The company has invested €5 million in the move of about 1,200 employees to the new offices.

* Viacom Inc. promoted Katarzyna Samojluk to the role of vice president of finance for central and eastern Europe and Israel, Broadband TV News reports. Samojluk will hold an additional role as country manager of Viacom International Media Networks in Poland.

* Channel One Russia has tapped VDM Vela Digital Media as its new partner for distributing its global channel and thematic channels on over-the-top platforms in the U.S., Canada, Israel and 25 European markets, Broadband TV News reports, citing Kommersant.

* Google is working to fix a technical issue on payment service Google Pay in Poland, after users in the country were unable to access the service for several days, Telecompaper reports, citing Telepolis.pl.

* Alexander Zhivotovskiy will continue serving as head of Ukraine's National Commission for the State Regulation of Communications and Informatization, or NKRZI, after he was appointed by President Petro Poroshenko for a new six-year term, Telecompaper reports, citing BizLigaNet.

* Latvia's State Police detained four individuals suspected of engaging in the illegal distribution of TV services in the capital city of Riga and nearby areas, Broadband TV News reports, citing a statement. The detainees could be imprisoned for up to four years or face a fine if proven guilty of the charges.

FEATURED NEWS

Data Dispatch EMEA: Europe's continental divide in internet ad spending to grow through 2021: Western European broadband households will see significant growth in internet advertising spending in the next couple years, widening the continental divide between the region and Central and Eastern Europe, according to Publicis Groupe SA's Zenith advertising spend data.

FEATURED RESEARCH

Global Multichannel: Viacom expands global footprint with mobile partnerships, Pluto TV: International revenue results across segments fell year over year for Viacom Inc. for the quarter ended March 31, but the company expects to reverse declines in the back half of the year as it executes its global distribution and advertising strategies.

Anne Freier, Sylvia Edwards Davis, Charlotte van Hek and Esben Svendsen contributed to this report.

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