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Zuckerberg to meet with EU policymakers; Iliad nears Italian launch

TOP NEWS

* Facebook Inc. founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg has accepted the European Parliament's invitation to "clarify issues related to the use of personal data," said European Parliament President Antonio Tajani. Zuckerberg will meet political leaders and civil liberties committee members in Brussels "as soon as possible, hopefully already next week," Tajani said.

* Iliad SA plans to launch its mobile operations in Italy by June 21, Telecompaper reports, citing the company's earnings call. Newly appointed CEO Thomas Reynaud said the network is now running.

UK AND IRELAND

* Cambridge Analytica LLC's former research director Christopher Wylie told U.S. lawmakers that the data analytics firm at the center of a global scandal regarding user privacy on Facebook was a political machine that "specialized in disinformation, spreading rumors ... and propaganda." Wylie said he reported Cambridge Analytica's business practices to U.K. authorities months before Facebook said in March that it had suspended the accounts of SCL and Cambridge Analytica, as well as Wylie, for violating its personal data policies.

* Scottish public broadcaster STV Group PLC unveiled plans to shutter its "loss-making" STV2 channel at June-end, as part of its three-year growth plan focusing on online content. The plan also entails the creation of a digital division and a formats unit within STV Productions and a £5 million advertising growth fund.

* British Telecom said newly formed consumer business unit will launch the "Best Connected" plan, a converged offer that combines mobile, broadband, Wi-Fi and pay TV services. Along with the new offer, BT Consumer will have a consumer partnership division that will work with companies globally to introduce new products and services for BT consumers.

* British Broadcasting Corp. unit BBC Studios named Geo Lee as senior vice president and general manager for northeast Asia. Lee joins BBC Studios from Amazon Japan KK, where he headed the Amazon.com Inc. subsidiary's transactional video-on-demand division.

GERMANY, SWITZERLAND AND AUSTRIA

* German state broadcaster ARD has suggested setting up an online "super media library" that would combine content from Germany's state broadcasters, as well as from other publishers and private broadcasters, reports Telecompaper. The library would serve to counteract the dominance of platforms like YouTube and Facebook in Germany and Europe.

* Vodafone Deutschland GmbH has activated its new 5G Beam technology to provide customers with faster and more reliable bandwidth. Vodafone said its 5G Beam is based on intelligent antenna beamforming technology and can connect up to 128 small, specially arranged antennas over the "tiniest" space.

* German national telecom regulator BNetzA officially announced it will not hold auctions for 5G frequencies in the 2 GHz and 3.6 GHz spectrum range until the first quarter of 2019 at the earliest, as opposed to this year as previously anticipated.

FRANCE

* French President Emmanuel Macron will meet with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and a dozen technology executives at a Paris tech summit in the week of May 21, Reuters reports. On the agenda is the EU tax on digital turnover and a call for a tougher battle against fake news.

* Radio France has appointed Guy Lagache executive director for Radio France Antennas and editorial strategy, effective June 25.

* Arnaud Lagardére, general and managing partner of Lagardere SCA, confirmed the appointment of Laurent Guimier as CEO of radio station Europe 1, owned and operated by Lagardere unit Lagardere Active. Guimier will take up his functions on May 22, Le Figaro reports.

* Investment group Mediawan SA finalized the acquisition of a 51% stake in ON Entertainment. Incorporating Groupe AB's 5%, Mediawan will hold a 51% share capital stake, alongside the founders and remaining managers, with a total cash out of €51 million for Mediawan, for the acquisition of shares and a €16 million share capital increase.

NETHERLANDS, BELGIUM AND LUXEMBOURG

* KPN NV will broadcast the FIFA 2018 World Cup on the NPO 1 UHD channel to all customers with a 4K/Ultra HD subscription, TotaalTV reports. Competitor Ziggo NV has reportedly decided not to provide NPO 1 UHD to customers.

* Most Dutch parliamentarians do not want a European tax for large tech companies such as Facebook and Alphabet Inc. unit Google Inc., NOS reports. A draft version of a letter to European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker reportedly said EU member states should make their own decision on the matter, and that European legislation is unnecessary.

* Dutch torrent site Place2home has gone offline after a settlement with antipiracy organization Stichting Brein, Tweakers reports. Details of the settlement have not been made public.

* Dutch retailer Bruna pulled the plug on its three-year-old e-book and e-magazine subscription service Bliyoo, Emerce reports. Subscribers to the "Spotify for reading" are being directed to similar services Bookchoice and Leeslounge.

NORDIC COUNTRIES

* The Swedish government announced a new artificial intelligence collaboration, the Data Factory & Arena, in Gothenburg. The aim is to create a research center where universities, industry and business can cooperate on developing new AI solutions. The government is investing 500 million Swedish kronor in the coming 10 years, and that sum will be matched by participating companies in the period.

* Modern Times Group AB appointed two new leadership team members as part of MTG's split into two companies, MTG and Nordic Entertainment Group. Peter Nørrelund has been appointed head of product development and incubation of the new MTG, while Johan Levinsson has been appointed group general counsel for MTG.

* Nokia Corp. announced the Smartpur project, which aims to develop 500 digitally integrated and sustainable villages in India. The project will create an ecosystem in which households and community members use digital tools for easier access to government services and information.

* Ericsson said Japan's SoftBank Group Corp. has implemented a new method for radio access network design based on machine intelligence. The service groups cells in clusters and uses statistics from cell overlapping and carrier aggregation potential to improve network performance. The method cut the lead time by 40%, compared with traditional network design.

SOUTHERN EUROPE

* Telecom Italia SpA said Vivendi SA is no longer involved in the Italian operator's direction and coordination activities. TIM's board of directors has introduced a new governance structure for the company and formed a new committee to take part in the investigation and monitoring of interactions with related parties.

* Mediaset SpA and Atresmedia may be fined up to €5 billion over alleged illegal advertisement practices, Advanced Television reports, citing El Español. Spanish regulator Comisión Nacional de los Mercados y la Competencia is investigating the allegations.

* Telefónica SA unit Telefónica Business Solutions will begin to offer Amazon Web Services Inc.'s cloud offering portfolio as part of a strategic collaboration with the Amazon unit. The Spanish operator has also created a Cloud Center of Excellence in Spain to help customers transition to the cloud.

* Fastweb SpA has denied the National Consumers Union's accusation that major Italian operators hit customers with hidden charges, Telecompaper reports. The Swisscom AG unit's statement follows the union filing a complaint with Italian regulator AGCOM over operators' alleged unfair practices.

EASTERN EUROPE

* Mediapro will acquire Slovenian production company VPF PRO for about €5 million to enter the eastern European market, TBI Vision reports, citing Expansion. VPF PRO's approximately 100 employees will be part of the Spanish broadcaster, as well as of its parent company Imagina.

* Bulgarian broadcaster BTV has acquired rights to air three shows from Globo, Rapid TV News reports. Comedy series "The Big Catch" will air on linear pay-TV channel BTV Lady, "Hidden Truths" will be available on the subscription video-on-demand platform bWeb and"Edge of Desire" is scheduled to air in the second half.

FEATURED NEWS

Tech Time: Google launches IoT platform; Deutsche Telekom initiates 5G rollout: Alphabet unit Google released version 1.0 of its internet of things platform named Android Things, while Deutsche Telekom initiated the rollout of the 5G standard in Germany using equipment from Huawei.

FEATURED RESEARCH

Multichannel Trends: Q1'18 top cable MSO table: video, HSD, voice subscribers: Kagan's first-quarter 2018 top cable MSO table is now live.

Daniela Latini, Sylvia Edwards Davis, Koen Pijnappels and Esben Svendsen contributed to this report.

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