* Orange SA selected BNP Paribas SA and Morgan Stanley to assess a potential IPO of its Middle East and Africa operations, which could be launched as early as the first half of 2020, Bloomberg News reports. Paris and London are potential listing venues.
* Facebook Inc. and eBay Inc. responded to a request from the U.K.'s Competition and Markets Authority to tackle fake and misleading reviews on their platforms. Facebook removed 188 groups and disabled 24 user accounts, while eBay permanently banned 140 users, according to a news release.
* The U.S. made a final pitch to the U.K. ahead of the latter's upcoming decision on whether to include Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. in its 5G network build out, Reuters reports, citing sources. Huawei's spokesman said that lawmakers in the U.K. confirmed that the Chinese company's equipment will not be used in the U.K. for intelligence sharing.
* BeIN Media Group LLC acquired the rights to UEFA Euro 2020 in France, Digital TV reports. The deal, which includes linear and digital output, is believed to be worth between €35 million and €38 million.
UK AND IRELAND
* STV Productions Ltd. acquired a 25% stake in drama producer Two Cities Television for an undisclosed sum. The television production arm of Scottish broadcaster STV Group PLC will be able to boost its stake in Two Cities to a majority interest over the next three years. British Broadcasting Corp. unit BBC Studios Ltd. is exiting Two Cities as part of the deal.
* Cinedigm Corp. teamed up with U.K.-based television production and distribution company All3media International Ltd. to launch two new free ad-based video-on-demand services, "So…Dramatic" and "So…Real." "So…Dramatic" will showcase content from All3media International's library of dramas, targeted at men and women 25 years of age and older, and will feature a diverse lineup headlined by scripted shows from the U.K. and Australasia.
* Ofcom plans to change regulation of British Telecom's national Openreach Ltd. network to accelerate the rollout of full-fiber broadband. Starting in April 2021, the U.K. telecoms regulator is proposing varied rules for different parts of the country to ensure that rural areas benefit from the same connectivity as urban locations. The new regulations cover a five-year period until March 2026.
* Sky Ltd. said it appointed Ian France and Estelle Hughes as commissioning editors for kids. France and Hughes will begin in their new roles in the coming weeks and will work with Lucy Murphy, who has been promoted to director of kids' content for the U.K. and Ireland, effective immediately.
* Sports streaming proponent DAZN's consumption level almost doubled during 2019. According to initial usage numbers provided by the U.K.-based company, DAZN, now available in nine nations, streamed 507 million hours last year, a 98% rise from 256 million in 2018.
* The BBC's iPlayer streaming service generated 203 million requests to stream or download programs during its "best-ever" Christmas fortnight in 2019. The figure, which includes data from Dec. 20, 2019, to Jan. 2, 2020, represents an increase of more than a third from the same period in 2018.
* The BBC will ring fence about £1 million of development spend into a small indie fund to support independent producers in the U.K., the company said in a statement. The British company will select companies with a turnover of less than £10 million per year.
* The Kantar Group Ltd. appointed Ian Griffiths CFO, effective Jan. 16. Griffiths is replacing Robert Bowtell.
GERMANY, SWITZERLAND AND AUSTRIA
* GroupM unit Kinetic Worldwide Germany Gmbh appointed Sven Holsten as managing director, reports New Business. The agency offers media services for out-of-home media.
* German media company Gruner + Jahr AG & Co KG plans to extend the business model of marketing platform Applike. The publisher founded subsidiary WSD Apps, headed by the co-founders of Applike, reports Meedia.
* Ringier AG rejoined Swiss media association Verband Schweizer Medien in an attempt to bundle Swiss media and advertising market players against competition from Alphabet Inc.unit Google LLC and Facebook, reports Horizont.
* LG Electronics Inc. and Switzerland-based software company Luxoft Holding Inc. will establish a joint venture in Santa Clara, Calif., in the first half of 2020, ZDNet Korea reports. The JV will develop digital cockpit and rear-seat entertainment systems based on LG's webOS Auto platform.
* Orange inaugurated the new headquarters of its subsidiary Orange Middle East and Africa in Morocco in Casablanca. The company said it aims to be the leader in these markets by getting closer to its customers.
* French streaming platform Salto, a joint venture between France Télévisions SA, M6 Publicité SAS and TF1 Group SA, could be launched around the start of the new school year in 2020, Challenges reports, citing sources. The startup grew its workforce to about 200 today from around 50 employees three years ago. Salto aims to reach 300 mark by the end of 2020.
NETHERLANDS, BELGIUM AND LUXEMBOURG
* Belgian technology company Agfa-Gevaert NV appointed Pascal Juery CEO, effective Feb. 1. Juery will succeed Christian Reinaudo, who will continue to support the company as member of the board of directors.
* The Belgian government must do more to support staff from operator Proximus now that the company is implementing a transformation plan, according to the three trade unions, reports De Tijd. The three unions expressed their views in a hearing at the Belgian parliament, exactly one year after the provider announced its major restructuring, which were followed by strikes. The Belgian government is a major shareholder of Proximus.
* Dutch chipmaker NXP Semiconductors NV announced its collaboration with real-time development platform Unity Technologies Inc. to develop a human machine interface toolchain that creates modern vehicle experiences in mass production vehicles. Operating on NXP's i.MX 8QuadMax Applications Processor, the toolchain will give automotive manufacturers the ability to tap into Unity's real-time 3D rendering technology. No financial details were disclosed.
* Hexagon AB acquired Brisbane, Australia-based Blast Movement Technologies Pty. Ltd. for an undisclosed amount. The purchase enhances Hexagon's drill and blast offerings, CEO Ola Rollén said.
* Spotify AB is developing several sports podcasts, Bloomberg News reports, citing unnamed sources. The Swedish streaming service is focusing on podcasts to reduce its reliance on music, and last fall it hired Amy Hudson, former sports media partnerships lead at Facebook.
* Swedish streaming service for businesses Nenda AB said it entered an agreement with EURONEWS a.s. Nenda will offer Euronews' live English language live edition, as well as its video-on-demand library in 12 languages.
* Nordic Entertainment Group AB said it commissioned a second season of the Danish drama series "Pros and Cons." The new series will premiere exclusively on NENT's Viaplay AB streaming service.
* Vivendi SA urged an Italian court to suspend a decision that forces the French media group to freeze two-thirds of its shareholding in Mediaset SpA, Reuters reports, citing a document. The companies are still in talks to settle their spat, which involves Vivendi's opposition to the Italian broadcaster's plans to create a Netherlands-based holding company, according to a separate Reuters report.
* Spanish technology and consulting company Indra Sistemas SA said it acquired cybersecurity services provider Sistemas Informáticos Abiertos SA for an undisclosed amount. Luis Álvarez will lead the integration of the two companies as CEO of the merged entity.
* Telecom Italia SpA achieved speeds of more than 2 Gbps in a test of a live 5G network over the 26 GHz frequency band. The Italian telco teamed up with Ericsson and QUALCOMM Inc. unit Qualcomm Technologies Inc. for the test.
* Sky Italia SRL is adding Paramount Network (US), Spike and VH1 (US) channels to its offer, as part of an extended deal with ViacomCBS Networks, Advanced Television reports. ViacomCBS Networks is a subsidiary of ViacomCBS Inc.
* Telecom operator Telefónica SA struck an agreement to develop a private blockchain network for Spain's Association of Science and Technology Parks, Telecompaper reports. The network will allow more than 8,000 companies in 52 tech parks across Spain to deploy identity and secure payment apps.
* Aviva Santander sold a portion of its shareholding in IT company Asseco Poland SA to Polish pay TV operator Cyfrowy Polsat SA, Telecompaper reports, citing Telko.in. The pension fund, which divested nearly 4 million shares or a holding of about 4.5%, will retain a 10% stake in Asseco Poland.
* Russian mobile operator MegaFon is preparing to invest 710 million Russian rubles for the planned launch of a platform that will collect data for the industrial internet of things, Telecompaper reports, citing Cnews.ru.
* A Moscow court slapped a penalty of 37.5 million rubles on Rostelecom PJSC for violating conditions in a state contract to provide a data network for the Federal Tax Agency, Telecompaper reports, citing Cnews.ru.
* The Russian government ordered the country's communications ministry to allow operators to use only domestic equipment and cable as part of contracts to connect public premises, Telecompaper reports, citing Cnews.ru. The order covers telcos such as Rostelecom, ER-Telecom JSC, Mobile TeleSystems PJSC, MegaFon and TransTeleKom ZAO.
Conference Chatter: CES 2020: Quibi takes shot at mobile video revolution with Google, T-Mobile: Upcoming mobile entertainment video app Quibi unveiled its product at CES 2020, outlining its new proprietary tech, a range of partnerships, a launch date, ad sales and content plans.
Economics of TV & Film: New streaming services look to shake up distributor revenue mix: The business of motion picture distribution is entering another interesting period as major distributors take a direct-to-consumer approach, trying to capitalize on the success of services such as Netflix, Amazon and Hulu.
Anne Freier, Sylvia Edwards Davis, Charlotte van Hek and Esben Svendsen contributed to this report.
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