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Microsoft backs sexual harassment bill; AT&T reiterates plan to invest $1B in US

Top News

* Microsoft Corp. endorsed a bill to end forced arbitration of sexual harassment cases. Brad Smith, president and chief legal officer at Microsoft, said in an official blog post that the company will also ensure that every person facing sexual harassment at Microsoft can make their case in a public court, rather than settling through private arbitration.

* AT&T Inc. reiterated plans to inject an additional $1 billion in the U.S. in 2018 if the Republican tax bill is signed into law. The company made the commitment while applauding the U.S. House of Representatives for passing the legislation, according to a news release. The U.S. Senate voted 51-48 to pass the bill early on the morning of Dec. 20, but the measure faces another vote before moving to the president.

* A marriage between the movie studios of Walt Disney Co. and 21st Century Fox Inc. could have negative impacts on employment and content diversity in the tightly knit film industry, according to some industry insiders. Because of the size and scope of the transaction, it is likely to draw intense scrutiny from regulators, and the odds of its ultimate passage remain unclear.

* Subcommittee on Communications and Technology Chairman Marsha Blackburn introduced a bill that would prohibit blocking and throttling of internet traffic and leave in place the new transparency requirements recently adopted by the Federal Communications Commission. The bill looks to define what will be considered reasonable network management practices and to grant FCC the authority to enforce these obligations.

TV Networks

* Sports-focused streaming TV service fuboTV further expanded its local TV coverage with six new CBS (US) affiliates. The new CBS stations offered by fuboTV are: KHOU in Houston; KPHO in Phoenix; WGCL in Atlanta; WOIO in Cleveland; WTSP in Tampa/St. Petersburg, Fla.; and WUSA in Washington, D.C. FuboTV carries 111 local TV stations and access to FOX (US) network programming in 45 additional local markets, the company said.

Internet & OTT

* Google Inc.'s YouTube struck new agreements with music labels Universal Music Group and Sony Corp.'s Sony Music Entertainment Inc. The global, multiyear deal with Universal Music Group will provide recording artists and song writers improved content flexibility and growing compensation from YouTube's ad-supported and paid-subscription tiers, Variety reports, citing a statement from Universal Music Group Chairman Lucian Grainge. Meanwhile, Bloomberg News reports that YouTube's deal with the music labels is expected to help the video service launch a new paid music streaming service early next year.

* Amazon.com Inc.'s video game streaming service Twitch unveiled a new game show, called "Stream On," according to an official blog post. Set to premiere in March 2018, the new show from Twitch Studios will show up-and-coming streamers competing against each other to win a grand prize of $5,000 a month for a year to boost their streaming career.

* Facebook Inc. unveiled new tools to help users better manage their identity on Facebook using face recognition. Among other things, the new tools will help members know when they are in a photo but have not been tagged or if somebody is trying to use their profile picture, the company noted in a post.

* In more Facebook news, the social networking giant bolstered efforts to combat harassment on Facebook. According to an official blog post, users can use features to identify fake accounts and block people who are harassing or abusing them via different accounts or repeatedly via messages. Among other things, users can also ignore messages by disabling notifications from a particular user.

Advertising

* Google's Chrome browser will start blocking ads on websites from Feb. 15, 2018, VentureBeat.com reports. The move will also affect ads served by the Alphabet Inc. unit, according to the report.

The day ahead

Early morning futures indicators pointed to a higher opening for the U.S. market.

In Asia, the Hang Seng fell 0.07% to 29,234.09, and the Nikkei 225 was up 0.10% to 22,891.72.

In Europe, as of midday, the FTSE 100 was down 0.12% to 7,535.33, and the Euronext 100 had fallen 0.39% to 1,041.90.

On the macro front

The Bank Reserve Settlement report, the MBA mortgage applications report, the existing home sales report, the EIA petroleum status report are due out today.

Featured news

The Daily Dose Europe: Germany probes Facebook; British MPs slam Twitter, others over censorship: Germany's Bundeskartellamt is looking into Facebook's potential abuse of dominance, while British lawmakers are criticizing tech companies over failing to properly censor content on their platforms.

The Daily Dose Asia-Pacific: Apple China offers LTE smartwatch refund; Huawei to enter US smartphone market: Apple Inc. has allowed Apple Watch 3 Series users in China to return the device after its cellular connectivity feature was cut off, while Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. will start selling its flagship Android smartphone through U.S. mobile network operators in 2018.

In Play Today: Early Uber investors eye stake sale; Match Group eyeing Bumble: Uber Technologies Inc. investors Benchmark and Menlo Ventures indicated that they may sell their shares in a tender offer. Match Group Inc. expressed interest in buying dating app Bumble again this fall after founder Whitney Wolfe Herd rejected a previous offer.

The Pay Check: WOW discloses new CEO's pay package: The pay packages of newly appointed WideOpenWest Inc. CEO Teresa Elder and BET Networks President Scott Mills are among those included in the latest installment of The Pay Check.

Featured research

Economics of TV & Film: Films heading to home video faster in 2017: The 180 films Kagan tracked in 2017 were released on DVD/Blu-ray 98 days after their theatrical release, down from 114 days in 2016.

Economics of TV & Film: 'Thor: Ragnarok' calls down the profit thunder: "Thor: Ragnarok" landed at the top of this month's film profit projections, and Kagan estimates that the film will end up hauling in $450.2 million in net profit with a 45.1% net profit margin.

Global Multichannel: Premium TV Everywhere goes OTT with operator partnerships in LatAm: Premium is moving online: in Latin America, instead of going direct-to-consumer themselves, networks are partnering with operators to offer over-the-top services.

Consumer Insights: Original programing on the rise on Amazon Prime Video: Amazon Prime Video users are more likely to view original programming on the platform compared to 2016, according to results from online consumer surveys.

The Daily Dose is updated as of 7 a.m. ET. Some external links may require a subscription.