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EU to focus on global digital tax plan; Free, Altice run into carriage dispute


* European Union governments ditched plans to establish an EU-wide digital tax following opposition from Nordic countries and Ireland, Reuters reports, citing an official statement. Speaking in a public session of a meeting of EU finance ministers, Romanian Finance Minister Eugen Teodorovici said ministers failed to reach an agreement and would now focus on creating a uniform, global taxation policy for internet companies, such as Alphabet Inc.'s Google LLC and Facebook Inc., by 2020. The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development is launching a public consultation before preparing a draft on a global taxing scheme, according to a separate Reuters report.

* Iliad has said that as of March 20, Free may no longer be allowed to provide access to Altice France SA's free-to-air channels and associated services. The channels to be discontinued include BFM TV, RMC Découverte, RMC Story and BFM, unless an agreement is reached between Free and the Altice Europe unit.


* Inc. is set to appoint unscripted heads across Europe by April 1, including in Spain, France, Germany and Italy, TBI Vision reports. The move follows Amazon's appointment of Dan Grabiner as the head of unscripted in the U.K.

* Members of the European Parliament have adopted the EU Cybersecurity Act, which puts in place a certification scheme for products, processes and services sold in EU countries that comply with cybersecurity standards. The parliament also approved a resolution pushing for a European Union-wide action on security threats associated with the use of Chinese technologies across the region, according to a news release.

* Global distributor About Premium Content SAS has secured several broadcast deals for Telefónica SA's Telefónica Studios' high-end drama "Gigantes," TBI Vision reports. The series, co-produced by Movistar+ and Lazona Producciones, will be aired on Elisa Viihde in Finland, Deutsche Telekom AG's MagentaTV in Germany, Canal+ in Poland, Spike in Russia and UPC Schweiz in Switzerland, among other markets.

* The European Commission has adopted region-wide rules for setting technical requirements on operating drones, in line with the commission's Aviation Strategy for Europe.


* An independent review panel has recommended for the British government to administer a revamp in its competition rules, to address the dominance of tech giants, such as Facebook and Google, Reuters reports. In response, U.K. Chancellor Philip Hammond said government measures will be set later this year to competitiveness in the digital markets.

* Liberty Global PLC unit Virgin Media has introduced its Intelligent Wi-Fi technology, which aims to distribute Wi-Fi connection among connected devices, to optimize the internet speed of each user, the Daily Mirror reports. The technology has become available to its Hub 3 routers at no additional cost.

* Private equity firm Business Growth Fund Ltd. and HSBC provided funding to Operam Education Ltd., which operates in the education recruitment industry. Operam said it plans to use the proceeds to finance its purchase of U.K.-based education recruitment agencies Teachers UK and The Education Specialists to expand its regional footprint across the U.K.


* News Corp. and German media publisher Axel Springer SE are among the media companies considering acquiring Acuris, formerly known as Mergermarket Ltd., London's Financial Times reports, citing people involved in the process. An auction for the sale of Acuris, owner of the Debtwire news and data service, will reportedly commence this week.

* ProSiebenSat.1 Media SE SE has denied suggestions that the planned streaming service it is working on with Discovery Inc. would eat up the German broadcaster's TV business, Digital TV Europe reports, quoting CEO Max Conze. The two companies will jointly invest €100 million for the platform, which is set to launch this year.

* German telecom provider Deutsche Telekom will launch a series of virtual reality experiences across multiple German cinemas in March and April. The cinema tour is presented in collaboration with Magenta VR, the interactive VR app.

* German telecom provider freenet AG has filed an urgent petition against the bidding process for the next 5G mobile communications standard just a few days ahead of the frequency auction, reports Handelsblatt.


* Vivendi SA's Dailymotion SA video platform has inked a video player technology and content distribution deal with the NBA G League, the National Basketball Association's official minor league. Under the multiyear partnership, Dailymotion's advanced technology will be used as the NBA G League's primary video player to host and stream video-on-demand content on all of its owned and operated properties.

* Eutelsat Communications SA announced that Mondo Globo/MCNC has become the first customer for Eutelsat Cirrus hybrid satellite-over-the-top solution. The deal concerns the delivery of Telearabia PRO, a platform of six Arabic TV channels.

* French energy supplier ENGIE SA, via its subsidiary Ineo, has acquired a stake in fiber-optic service provider Netalis in December for an undisclosed amount, L'Express reports. Netalis President Nicolas Guillaume said the partnership will benefit their respective markets and customers.


* Proximus board of directors wants to continue with CEO Dominique Leroy, whose mandate will end in 2020, De Tijd reports. The board reportedly supports the CEO's approach for the about 1,900 possible layoffs and foresees contract renewal talks with her in the second half of 2019.

* The Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets announced that it is imposing a €100,000 per day penalty on Dutch telecom provider KPN NV for unlawfully charging other providers premiums on call transferring tariffs. The penalty can reach a maximum of €1 million, and should force KPN to adjust their policy.

* Belgian IT provider Cheops BV appoints Geert Degezelle as CEO, effective April 1, reports Datanews. Degezelle, formerly CEO of Telindus Nederland and in charge of the Proximus B2B security and cloud branch, will succeed Filip Goos, who becomes full-time chairman of the board of directors.


* Nordic Entertainment Group AB has obtained live broadcast rights for Premier League football games covering the 2019-2020 season in Denmark, Modern Times Group said. NENT outlets TV3+, TV3 MAX and YouSee A/S' Xee channel will each broadcast 116 live PL matches every season until 2022.

* TDC A/S said it has bought the IT security solutions firm Secu A/S, which delivers services to medium and large-sized companies in Denmark.

* TDC has named its service division Nuuday A/S. Nuuday includes TDC's customer-linked brands YouSee, TELMORE A/S and the corporate services unit TDC Erhverv. Nuuday will deliver digital, cloud and entertainment services across Denmark.

* TerraNet AB said it will join a self-driving vehicle project with Volvo AB and Lund University of Technology, which will explore use of cellular localization and 5G multiwave propagation technologies. The project is part-funded by Sweden's state research and development agency Vinnova.

* Ericsson has named Rafiah Ibrahim adviser to CEO Börje Ekholm. Ibrahim, who was senior vice president and head of Middle East and Africa market area at Ericsson, will begin her new role in August.

* Swedish company Bolooba Data Centers AB has filed for bankruptcy, reports Digital Di. Bolooba decided to terminate its business operations in the wake of a Swedish Tax Office policy to terminate energy-related tax refunds for data centers.


* Clients of Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd.'s Italian unit are concerned about an ongoing dispute with the U.S. over security issues concerning the use of its equipment, Reuters reports, citing Huawei Italia CEO Thomas Miao. The executive, however, reportedly said the matter has no impact yet on the company's business in Italy.

* Spanish towers operator Cellnex Telecom SA has secured at least two investors in its capital increase worth about €1.2 billion, Telecompaper reports. Holding company Criteria Caixa, a unit of financial services company La Caixa, agreed to subscribe to 4.01 million new shares, or 6% of the total, for €72 million. Another Cellnex shareholder, investment vehicle ConnecT, will also buy some of the new shares, according to the report.

* Proxy adviser ISS has urged Telecom Italia SpA shareholders to vote against Vivendi SA's proposal to replace five Elliott Advisors (UK) Ltd.-appointed members on the Italian telco's board, Reuters reports, citing a statement. ISS warned the shareholders against Vivendi's poor track record on governance issues at TIM.

* Spanish media company Vertice 360, owned by Squirrel Capital ApS, will acquire Italy-based teleport operator M-Three SatCom Srl from Giglio Group SpA for an undisclosed sum, Advanced Television reports. The acquisition is part of a bigger deal that would allow Vertice 360 to purchase Giglio Group's other media assets, expect to be completed in the first half of 2019.


* Vodafone Romania SA is considering price hikes on its services or reducing its investments, following a new ordinance imposing new taxes on telecom operators, Telecompaper reports, citing Ziarul Financiar. The Vodafone Group PLC unit's rival telcos, Telekom Romania Communications SA and Romania Cable Systems & Romania Data Systems, have earlier unveiled rate hikes as a result of the law.


Comcast Cable CEO: 5G cannot compete at scale with cable broadband: "We feel like that we're going to be the leader in terms of these rich bandwidth applications going forward," Comcast Cable CEO David Watson said, noting that Comcast power users consume 650 GB of data per month.


Global Multichannel: Ireland operators push for high-speed broadband as subscriber growth slows: Broadband subscription growth has slowed in the last few years, with 2018 at just 2.0%, while revenues continue to see strong growth at 8.5%, driven by high prices and increasing high-speed internet adoption.

Anne Freier, Sylvia Edwards Davis, Koen Pijnappels and Gerard O'Dwyer contributed to this report.

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