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Apple sued by French regulator; Orange acquires stake in African e-commerce firm

TOP NEWS

*France's competition, consumer affairs and fraud control agency launched acourt case against AppleInc. seeking €48.5 million, accordingto BFMTV. The DGCCRF asked the iPhone maker to remove 10 illegal contractclauses from its carrier contracts with the four French mobile operators. Theseinclude forcing carriers to buy a minimum number of iPhones over a three-yearperiod, to contribute to Apple-run advertising funds and to allow Apple to usetheir patents and trademarks. In addition to €8 million in fines, Apple is beingasked to repay the operators: €14 million to SFR, €11.6 million to Orange, €6.7 million to and €8.2 million toFree Mobile.

*Orange is acquiring a €75 million equity stake in e-commerce platform AfricaInternet Group, according to a statement.Orange's investment is part of its strategic Essentials2020 plan to developdigital services in Africa and the Middle East. AXA, Goldman Sachs, MTN Group,Millicom and Rocket Internet are all capital stakeholders in AIG. Theinvestment will be accompanied by strategic partnerships between subsidiariesof the two groups. Orange said it will help Jumia and other websites run byAfrica Internet Group to accelerate their growth and seize development opportunitiesin Africa.

PAN-EUROPEAN

*Fifteen operators in 10 Western European countries carry and with it face thethreat of cannibalizing time spent on their own TV and video services, accordingto a new SNL Kagan report. Pay TV services in Belgium, Denmark, Finland,France, the Netherlands and the U.K. are the most prolific integrators ofthird-party SVOD and OTT services, with at least one operator in each countrycarrying Netflix. A clear majority only support one or two services at most.

*VICE Media Inc.tapped former DiscoveryCommunications Inc. executive Arjan Hoekstra to oversee theexpansion of the Viceland(US) network across the European market, TBI Vision reports,citing a statement. Hoekstra, who will assume the role of general manager ofEurope at VICE, previously oversaw Discovery Asia before leaving the company inMarch 2015. Viceland debuted in North America in February, and is set tolaunch in the U.K.and Ireland in September.

UK AND IRELAND

*FremantleMedia Ltd.unit FremantleMedia International struck distribution deals with threesubscription video-on-demand platforms across Asia, accordingto a news release. OTT service iflix acquired the rights to several drama,comedy, factual documentary and lifestyle shows. Meanwhile, Thailand-based DOONEEand iQiyi Taiwansecured SVOD rights to popular formats including "American Idol,""Britain's Got Talent" and "The X Factor UK." owns FremantleMedia.

* said in a newsrelease that itstruck a deal to acquire television and video-on-demand rights to programmingfrom British BroadcastingCorp. unit BBCWorldwide Ltd. The deal covers shows such as "DoctorWho," "Wolf Hall" and "War and Peace," along with otherseries and films that the global pay TV operator will air on its FilmBox brandchannels across Central and Eastern Europe, Turkey, Africa and the Middle East.

*The Welsh government and Skyplc's distribution unit Sky Vision inked a strategic partnership tohelp develop and boost global sales of Welsh TV programs, Sky said in a news release.Under the deal, the Welsh government and Sky Vision will each invest £200,000into a factual and entertainment fund that will be used for new programs byWelsh indies. The fund will also support U.K. companies in bringing moreproductions to Wales.

GERMANY, SWITZERLAND ANDAUSTRIA

*ProSiebenSat.1 MediaSE's TV production unit   and Canadian director and producer Kari Skogland launched newproduction firm Mad Rabbit, reportsMediabiz. Skogland previously worked on shows including "House ofCards" and "The Walking Dead." The joint venture will produce dramasfor the international market. Its board of directors is headed by Peter Sussman.

*German trade union Verdi added further pressure to tariff negotiations withDeutsche Telekom AG, accordingto Handelsblatt. Verdi called on3,000 members of staff at Deutsche Telekom's customer service center to strike,adding pressure to discuss acceptable and fair payment offers in the future.Tariff discussions, which will be resumed on April 12-13, affect 70,000Deutsche Telekom employees.

FRANCE

*Vivendi SA announcedthe launch of STUDIO+, a service that will provide à la carte consumption withexclusive premium content developed specifically for mobile and tablets.STUDIO+ will offer five to 10 minute episodes within a dedicated app developedby CANAL+ and WATCHEVER. At its French launch, STUDIO+ will offer 25 completeoriginal series. STUDIO+ will launch in some 20 countries across Europe and LatinAmerica at the end of 2016, with a further launch on other continents scheduledfor 2017.

*Altice NV'sNuméricable–SFR wantsto raise $2.25 billion of speculative debt via a 10-year bond on the U.S.market, Reuters reports, citing a note from International Financing Review. The company, which intendsto use the proceeds of the offering to repay existing debt, hopes to price thenew bond by April 6.

* Arecord number of 234 French films were produced in 2015, marking a high pointfor French film production, reportsLes Echos. According to the Centrenational du cinéma, there were 31 more films produced in 2015 than in 2014.This number has not been recorded since the institution began collecting datain 1952.

NETHERLANDS, BELGIUM ANDLUXEMBOURG

*Liberty Global plc'sZiggo NV launched anapp on the Horizon Mediabox which offers eight French television channels,Media Magazine reports.The app is still in beta phase and only meant for TV. The app is free until theend of 2016, according to the report.

*The Belgian, French-language daily LeSoir  now appears in two regionaleditions instead of five, VRT reports.From now on, all the local news is bundled in Le Soir Brussel-Brabant and LeSoir Wallonië.

*Dutch public regional broadcaster RTV Noord launched a new online platform withnews and background information about the economy and business in the provinceof Groningen, Emerce reports.The platform, named RTV NoordZaken, will focus on opinions, figures andstartups.

*KPN NV will present aself-produced comedy series to customers of its video-on-demand service KPN Presenteert,NU reports.Composed of eight episodes, the series is about clumsy musician Toon, who istrying to survive in the trendy world of media.

*The foundation Glasvezel Molenwaard started looking at local interest in theDutch town for a citywide fiber network, Telecompaper reports.If at least 50% of the households signs up for the service, the foundation willconsider the rollout viable. Reggefiber already rolled out fiber in parts ofthe municipality a few years ago, and the foundation would like to cover therest of the area.

NORDIC COUNTRIES

*Norwegian IT company OperaSoftware ASA extended the deadline for acceptance of theacquisition offerfrom Chinese investment fund Golden Brick Silk Road, it said in a stock exchangenotice.The offer of 71 Norwegian kroner per share is now valid until April 14. Theoffer has been accepted by the owners of only 65.8% of the shares in Opera, butthe minimum acceptance level is over 90%.

*Telenor ASA has beenimplicated in the Panama Papers scandal, E24 reports.The newly elected chairman of Telenor, Gunn Wærsted, is being investigated forher role in a case, as she was a member of the group executive management inSwedish bank Nordea, and country senior executive in Nordea Bank Norway untilDecember 2015. Nordea is being accused of helping establish shell companies inoffshore tax havens.

*Spotify Ltd. isplanning to become more aggressive in product development, DI Digital reports.Gustav Söderström, who is responsible for Spotify's product strategies,reportedly said that Spotify looks a little too much like it did five yearsago. He added that users will soon notice recent acquisitions of audio messageservice Soundwave and pattern analysis service Cord Project. Last week, Spotifytook out a loan of $1 billion, though it is unclear if the money will be usedfor further acquisitions.

*Danish telecom group TDCA/S hired Carsten Elmose as new director of marketing andcommunication for its TV subsidiary YouSee A/S, Børsenreports.Elmose was previously marketing director at Danish pension company Danica.

SOUTHERN EUROPE

*Time Warner Inc.'sHBO is looking for two executives to manage its Spanish unit, Rapid TV News reports,citing job offers posted on HBO's LinkedIn profile. The openings are for aretention project manager and digital marketing manager, who will oversee thelaunch of a new premium subscription video-on-demand platform, to be named HBOEspaña. The Spanish operations will be a subsidiary of HBO Nordic.

* Spanishbroadcaster Grupo Secuoya struck a deal with audiovisual agency Scenic Rightsto co-produce Spanish-language content, Rapid TV News reports.The two companies also agreed to work together to identify productionopportunities with other TV stations, investors and co-producers.

*Former Telecom ItaliaSpA network head Stefano Paggi joined Enel SpA's fiber-opticventure Enel Open Fiber, Telecompaper reports.Paggi left Telecom Italia at the end of March after serving as head of theoperator's open access networking unit. Enel Open Fiber earlier named formerWIND TelecomunicazioniSpA head Tommaso Pompei as its CEO, according to the report.

EASTERN EUROPE

*Chinese over-the-top platform LeEco may soon launch in Russia, Broadband TVNews reports,citing Kommersant. Viktor Xu and AlexVassilev, both senior executives at Chinese online retailer JD.com, will likelylead LeEco's Russian operations. LeEco was known as until January. It isalso available to users in the U.S. and India.

*Orange Romanialaunched a business Internet security platform that provides customizedsecurity solutions for companies, Telecompaper reports,citing Go4it.ro. Network administrators will be able to use the service tocontrol the use of Internet connections, as well as limit or prevent access tospecific content, websites or applications. The platform is aimed at companieswith 50 to 250 employees that use Orange Romania's data service.

*Only 12 broadcasters submitted applications for 15 slots on Moldova's DTTmultiplex A, Mediasat reports,citing news agency Infotag. The TV channels include TVR Moldova, Moldova1,Prime and CTC-Mega. The country's Coordination Council, which regulates TV andradio broadcasting, accepted and approved all applications.

FEATURED NEWS

: Reports indicatedthat Disney COO Thomas Staggs was edged out of CEO contention, leading to hisresignation, and observers are speculating as far as New York and SiliconValley for the next heir-apparent.

: Mobile wallets likeAndroid Pay and Apple Pay currently hitch a ride on existing financial infrastructureprovided by banks and card companies. In Europe, that could be about to change.

: At the annual MIPTVconference in France, SNL Kagan sat down with Nikolaus Lohmann, co-CEO ofearthTV, a Berlin-headquartered digital production technology company, to talkabout the impact of 360-degree videos and VR on the TV and video industry.

: MasterCard showed off"playful" wearable payment tech at Money20/20 Europe.

: In this monthlyfeature, SNL Kagan provides a roundup of news related to over-the-top,video-on-demand and other online video initiatives in different Latin Americanmarkets.

: After six years of speculating about the FCC's 600MHz Broadcast Incentive Auction, we seem to know a bit less about a lot more.

FEATURED RESEARCH

Wireless Investor: Swaps,consolidations mark busy Q4 for 2015 spectrum deals: In addition toT-Mobile's push to round up more 700 MHz A block spectrum and the majorcarriers' interest in swapping license blocks to improve operatingefficiencies, the rural telcos also stepped up deal activity.

Economics of Internet:State of Australian online video: Subscription: Australians haveembraced subscription-based video-on-demand services with the help of highrates of broadband penetration and a healthy appetite for televisionconsumption.

Economics of Internet:STARZ on a growing list of TV network-backed OTT services: Hopingto take advantage of a changing video market, several networks have launchedover-the-top video services in the past year. This list now includes Starz,which launched a stand-alone video offering on April 5.

Wireless Investor: Doconsumers care about the Internet of Things?: To help us separatehype from reality, we asked 2,631 U.S. online adults about the Internet ofThings. Of 16 IoT options, survey takers indicated a 4G-connected car was themost interesting. A connected fridge? Not so much.

Amanda Kelly,Anne Freier, Kees Pijnappels and Esben Svendsen contributed to this report. TheDaily Dose has an editorial deadline of 7 a.m. London time. Some external linksmay require a subscription.