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Apple faces iPhone ban in Germany; Uber fined in France

TOP NEWS

* Munich's district court ruled that Apple Inc. is no longer allowed to offer certain models of its iPhone in Germany, following a patent dispute with U.S. chipmaker Qualcomm Inc., Handelsblatt reports. The court confirmed that Apple had violated a patent of Qualcomm's smartphone technologies and subsequently owes the latter damages. Apple will reportedly appeal the ruling.

* French data protection authority CNIL imposed a €400,000 fine on Uber Technologies Inc. for leaks of customers' data. The regulator found that the ride-sharing app did not sufficiently protect more than 1.4 million users in France who were affected by a security breach.

* Technology companies that operate in the EU could face new taxes and regulations in 2019. The European Parliament is pushing to approve a 3% digital services tax aimed at tech companies with an annual global revenue of more than €750 million.

PAN-EUROPEAN

* The European Commission is inviting feedback on the commitments made by certain companies to address antitrust issues regarding contractual clauses that hinder cross-border availability of pay-TV content. The companies that offered the commitments include Comcast Corp.'s NBCUniversal Media LLC, Sony Corp.'s Sony Pictures, Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. and pay TV provider Sky Ltd., formerly Sky PLC.

UK AND IRELAND

* British telecom regulator Ofcom has ruled that Russian broadcaster RT violated broadcasting rules in the country over its failure to ensure impartial coverage in seven of its news and current affairs shows over a six-week period from March to April. The watchdog is considering to impose sanctions on RT, which will have the chance to explain its side on the matter.

* CloserStill Media Ltd. shareholders agreed to sell the company to U.S.-based private equity firm Providence Equity Partners LLC for an undisclosed sum. CloserStill runs content-led exhibitions across the U.K., Europe, the U.S. and the Far East.

* Accenture PLC booked fiscal first-quarter earnings that exceeded analysts' expectations as revenues rose 7% year over year in U.S. dollars. Net income attributable to the Ireland-based consulting firm stood at $1.27 billion, or $1.96 per share, in the quarter ended Nov. 30, up from $1.12 billion, or $1.79 per share, in the same period last year.

GERMANY, SWITZERLAND AND AUSTRIA

* A user of Amazon.com Inc.'s Alexa voice assistant in Germany accidently received 1,700 recordings from another user because of a "human error" made by the company, Heise reports. The customer had requested to listen back to his recordings made by Alexa but was sent a link by Amazon to 1,700 audio files belonging to a stranger.

* Vodafone GmbH reported a 50% increase in data usage by its customers in 2018 to 580 million GB, with the state of North Rhine-Westphalia taking the helm. The Vodafone Group PLC unit built additional LTE stations this year and provides 6 million GB connections across Germany.

* Telefónica Deutschland Holding AG has connected at least 1,000 mobile phone sites of its O2 network to Unitymedia's fiber optic infrastructure ahead of its 5G rollout, the companies announced. Based on this cooperation, the Telefónica SA unit is preparing further parts of its O2 network for a rapidly increasing data usage by its customers. Liberty Global PLC owns Unitymedia.

FRANCE

* Lagardère SCA Managing Partner Arnaud Lagardère said Europe 1 radio is "on the right track" and will "never be for sale," CB News reports.

* France Télévisions SA is in talks with over-the-top platform Molotov SA, L'Expansion reports, citing sources. In the face of competition from services such as Netflix Inc., the public TV group would use Molotov's technology to accelerate its digital transformation and develop its video-on-demand offering.

NETHERLANDS, BELGIUM AND LUXEMBOURG

* RTL Nederland announced a three-year strategic sales partnership with Discovery Benelux, 21st Century Fox Inc.'s Fox Networks Group Benelux and Viacom Inc. unit Viacom International Media Networks. As part of the deal, RTL will take over TV advertising agency BrandDeli BV.

* WPG Media and Voetbal International director publisher Sanne Visser is stepping down on Jan. 1, 2019, Villamedia reports. Visser has held the function since August 2017.

* M7 Group SA's Canal Digitaal is adding TV channel TV538 to its over-the-top offer, TotaalTV reports. TV538 is part of Talpa Radio BV, owned by John de Mol's Talpa Network.

NORDIC COUNTRIES

* Zynga Inc. agreed to buy Finland-based mobile game developer Small Giant Games Ltd. in a cash-and-stock deal worth $560 million, according to a news release. The transaction, which is expected to close Jan. 1, 2019, is subject to customary closing adjustments.

* Private equity firm Cinven Ltd. said The Sixth Cinven Fund LP struck a deal to acquire web hosting services provider One.com A/S. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

* Telia Co. AB has launched Estonia's first 5G network, in cooperation with TalTech University and Ericsson. The network is a permanent installation that will serve as a test bed for industry partners and academia.

* Nordic Entertainment Group AB has acquired exclusive media rights in Sweden, Norway and Finland to 50 tennis tournaments from the Women's Tennis Association. The tournaments will be transmitted live on streaming service Viaplay, and selected matches will be broadcast on NENT Group's TV channels.

* Telia Norway is cooperating with Tampnet AS and CGI to provide offshore narrowband internet of things services. Wintershall Norway's Brage platform will be the first in the world to have NB-IoT connectivity.

* Ericsson said its 5G-ready Core Network as a Service solution for Panasonic Avionics Corp. has gone live. The platform enables Panasonic and its subsidiary AeroMobile Ltd. to provide data, voice and messaging services to millions of airline passengers in-flight.

SOUTHERN EUROPE

* Spanish public broadcaster RTVE is making its over-the-top service RTVE Play available to U.S. audiences, beginning in the first quarter of 2019, Advanced Television reports. The platform will eventually be launched in Canada and Latin America.

* Maltese operator Melita PLC has begun offering technology provider Plume's Stellar WiFi service to its residential internet subscribers. The technology is touted to help improve WiFi performance.

EASTERN EUROPE

* The Radio and Television Commission of Lithuania has ordered internet service providers in the country to block access to websites that distribute TV programs without permission from the regulator, Broadband TV News reports, citing a statement.

* Magyar Telekom and its CEO will pay a €160,000 fine imposed by Hungary's National Media and Infocommunications Authority for their failure to comply with rules covering the period of notification, in relation to the telecom operator's switch to digital broadcasting, Broadband TV News reports.

FEATURED NEWS

Data Dispatch: Big deals expected to continue for cybersecurity in 2019 as sector consolidates: While 2018 brought the largest security software deal in a decade, news that another big name may be on the sales block lends support to analysts' view that cybersecurity's M&A hot streak is set to continue in 2019.

Hires and Fires: AT&T's WarnerMedia names content chief; Netflix appoints VP of original content: Apple appointed John Giannandrea senior vice president of machine learning and artificial intelligence strategy, while Channing Dungey, the former president of Walt Disney's ABC Entertainment Group, is joining Netflix.

FEATURED RESEARCH

Economics of Internet: Over-the-top in Eastern Europe: YouTube Premium rolls out in the region: Over-the-top in Eastern Europe has been slowly growing with the addition of a number of services following multiple monetization models like electronic sell-through, ad-funded and subscription.

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

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