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AT&T to rename Time Warner; Fox to consider Comcast bid at meeting

Top News

* AT&T Inc. will rename its newly acquired Time Warner Inc. asset to WarnerMedia, Deadline reports. According to an internal memo from John Stankey, CEO of AT&T's media business, Turner Broadcasting System Inc. CEO John Martin is exiting the company. Stankey said the daily operations of Home Box Office Inc., Turner and Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. "will see little change," but many redundant corporate roles between the companies at the headquarters/holding company level will be eliminated in the coming months.

* 21st Century Fox Inc. will consider Comcast Corp.'s bid for its media assets at a meeting June 20, Variety reports. The news comes after Comcast asked Fox stockholders to vote against Fox's merger agreement with Walt Disney Co. at a special meeting July 10.

* While the combined AT&T/Time Warner will benefit from new revenue opportunities, its heavy debt load and shrinking EBITDA across multiple business segments limits the company's financial flexibility, analysts said as the deal came to a close. The newly merged entity has $180.4 billion in net debt, AT&T said June 14, well above the debt totals for any other major competitor in the wireless and pay TV markets.

* AT&T's landmark antitrust victory in securing its bid for Time Warner and Comcast's subsequent 21st Century Fox offer rocked media-sector stocks for the week ended June 15. AT&T on June 14 completed its $85.4 billion acquisition of Time Warner, bringing Warner Bros., HBO / Cinemax (US) and Turner Broadcasting System under the former's leadership.

Technology

* Alphabet Inc.-owned Google Inc. will invest $550 million in cash in Chinese e-commerce company JD.com Inc., according to a news release. The investment is part of a strategic partnership to explore a range of initiatives, including the joint development of retail solutions in Southeast Asia, the U.S. and Europe, among other regions.

* The staff of the U.S. International Trade Commission found Apple Inc. has violated at least one of Qualcomm Inc.'s patents related to battery-saving technology, Reuters reports. The move could result in a trade judge blocking the imports of some iPhones to the U.S.

* As virtual reality faces mixed among consumers, momentum is building for augmented and mixed reality in the workplace. With a growing number of businesses outside the games and entertainment industry adopting AR and MR to boost workflow and productivity, this could be a watershed moment for the emerging technologies, according to industry experts at AR & VR World, an annual conference for the reality tech community.

Film & TV

* AMC Networks Inc.'s AMC (US) pulled comedian Chris Hardwick's "Talking with Chris Hardwick" off the air amid allegations of abuse by his former girlfriend Chloe Dykstra, Variety reports, citing a statement by AMC. AMC said it takes the allegations against Hardwick very seriously and added that Hardwick has decided to step aside from moderating planned AMC and BBC America (US) panels at Comic-Con International in San Diego in July.

* Disney's "Incredibles 2" topped the domestic box office for the June 17 weekend with $180 million, followed by Warner Bros.' "Ocean's 8" at No. 2 with $19.6 million and Warner Bros.' "Tag" at the third spot with $14.6 million, according to comScore Inc. Disney's "Solo: A Star Wars Story" was No. 4 with $9.1 million, while 20th Century Fox took the fifth spot with "Deadpool 2" at $8.8 million.

* Ad spending is expected to grow during the 2018 midterm election over the 2014 cycle, with Democrats looking to regain control of Congress and 36 gubernatorial races in play, ad executives said at the S&P Global Market Intelligence TV & Radio and Finance Summit in New York. There are 75 truly competitive races in the House of Representatives, with Republicans holding 64 of the seats, said Steve Lanzano, president and CEO of the Television Bureau of Advertising. "Democrats see this as a real opportunity to regain control of the chamber," he said.

Internet & OTT

* Netflix Inc. picked up recently canceled FOX (US) drama series "Lucifer" for a fourth season, Multichannel News reports. The series, which will return to Netflix in 2019, was canceled by Fox Broadcasting Inc. in May after the third season.

* Facebook Inc. acquired rights to new docuseries "Breaking Big" for its Watch platform, The Hollywood Reporter reports. The 12-part series premiered June 15 on PBS (US) with a profile of "The Daily Show" host Trevor Noah.

The day ahead

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

In Asia, the Hang Seng was down 0.43% to 30,309.49. The Nikkei 225 fell 0.75% to 22,680.33. In Europe, as of midday, the FTSE 100 was down 0.32% to 7,609.25. and the Euronext 100 was down 0.99% to 1,058.92.

On the macro front

The housing market index report is due out today.

Featured news

The Daily Dose Europe: EU approves Comcast's Sky bid; Deutsche Telekom to enter eSports: The European Union has approved Comcast's takeover offer for Sky PLC, while Deutsche Telekom AG plans to tap the eSports segment.

The Best Of: Media & Comm, editor's picks: World Cup rights holders score; AI not a threat: Stories about World Cup ad sales, AT&T winning approval for the Time Warner deal and Tencent Holdings Ltd.'s video and gaming business challenging Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. in cloud computing are all among the editor's top five story picks for the week ended June 15.

The Best Of: Media & Comm, most read: AT&T closes Time Warner deal; net neutrality rules end: Stories about the AT&T and Time Warner deal opening the door for further M&A and the end of federal net neutrality protections are included in the most-read stories for the week ended June 15.

Data Dispatch: 'Incredibles 2' eyes record opening to shake Disney out of 'Solo' slump: Forecasters expect "Incredibles 2" to open in the range of "Finding Dory," which set an animated box office record in 2016.

Featured research

Economics of Networks: FOX could reap substantial rewards for 2026 World Cup: As the FIFA Men's World Cup kicked off this week, the 68th FIFA Congress announced June 14 that the Cup will head back to North America in 2026, music to the ears of TV rights owners Telemundo (US) and FOX Sports.

Economics of Networks: ESPN+ shopping spree continues with Atlantic 10, Conference USA deals: ESPN+ continued its sports rights shopping spree, acquiring the digital rights to NCAA conferences the Atlantic 10 and Conference USA.

Economics of Networks: Comcast tops Disney bid for Fox cable nets by nearly $2B: Kagan estimates that Comcast's offer for 21st Century Fox values the cable networks at $13.72 billion, or nearly $2 billion higher than Disney's original offer for the assets.

Consumer Insights: European survey links music listening and gaming, but not TV: A profile of music listeners in Europe highlights that avid music listeners also tend to be avid gamers, but the same correlation does not apply to watching TV.

Technology: Strong fiber-to-the-home equipment spend offsets DSL and North American declines: A 15% year-over-year increase in fiber-to-the-home equipment spending in the first quarter, driven largely by gigabit passive optical networking purchases by Chinese operators, offset declines in global DSL spending and a weak North American market.

Global Multichannel: Streaming Brasil 2018: Networks lead OTT expansion through operator partnerships: In Brazil, cable network programmers lead the expansion of streaming offers by making TV Everywhere platforms available to nonpay TV subscribers through partnerships with operators, ISPs, mobile carriers and app stores.

Economics of Networks: Comcast bid values Fox's cable networks at 12.8x cash flow: Comcast's bid for 21st Century Fox's assets has sparked new life into cable network M&A.

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