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ITV, Virgin Media reach deal; Proximus eyes new streaming platform

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ITV, Virgin Media reach deal; Proximus eyes new streaming platform

TOP NEWS

* ITV PLC has extended its agreement with Virgin Media Inc. for three years. Under the agreement, ITV channels in standard and high definition, as well as its 4K programming will be available on the Liberty Global PLC unit's current and planned platforms.

* Belgian provider Proximus is talking to various parties in the entertainment and media industry for the creation of a new streaming service, reports Het Laatste Nieuws. According to Proximus CEO Dominique Leroy, the service will focus on Belgian content, but will also contain foreign content.

PAN-EUROPEAN

* Twitter Inc. CEO Jack Dorsey attributed the drop in monthly users to "improving the health of the public conversation" on the platform and the General Data Protection Regulation's sweeping privacy laws in the European Union that took effect in May. The social media company's shares fell by as much as 15% in pre-market trading July 27 as the company failed to increase its average monthly active user figures during its second quarter.

UK AND IRELAND

* The U.K.'s Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee has recommended reforms in regulating how internet companies tackle fake news. Among the recommendations include increasing tech companies' responsibility in acting against harmful and illegal content, imposing an educational levy to tech companies operating in the U.K. and seeking assistance from the Competition and Markets Authority to audit the operation of the advertising market on social media.

* London's Financial Times Group Ltd. CEO John Ridding had a £510,000 pay rise in 2017 due to an increase in digital subscriptions, resulting in total compensation of £2.6 million, U.K.'s The Daily Telegraph reports, citing published accounts.

* ITV Studios Global Entertainment has selected Cecilie Olsen as senior vice president of nonscripted global content, reporting to Julie Meldal-Johnsen, the executive vice president of global content.

GERMANY, SWITZERLAND AND AUSTRIA

* German digital publisher Axel Springer SE announced a 5.9% increase in profits and an organic sales growth of 9.4% for the first half of 2018.

* Germany's AGF Videoforschung GmbH announced plans to adapt its model for weighing TV ratings to include internet use, professional activity and Sky PLC's Sky Deutschland GmbH subscriptions beginning 2019.

* United Internet AG is considering a bid for new 5G mobile licenses, reports German news site Golem. According to CEO Ralph Dommermuth, the group however has felt disadvantaged following a club deal between German Transport Minister Andreas Scheuer and network operators to divide the market among existing providers, leaving out newcomers.

* A1 Telekom Austria AG's board has approved the appointment of Thomas Arnoldner as CEO of the Telekom Austria Group unit, effective Sept. 1. The company has also extended the terms of COO Alejandro Plater and CFO Siegfried Mayrhofer. Telekom Austria Group is a unit of América Móvil SAB de CV.

FRANCE

* SFR Group SA, a unit of Altice Europe, formerly Altice NV, has begun offering businesses and individuals access to 4G+ up to 500 Mbit/s in Bordeaux. The service will be offered in Marseille and Lyon by summer, and in more than 10 major cities in France by year-end.

* Frances telecom regulator Arcep will update the rules around billing and the system for telephone number allocation in order to protect users from fraud and abuse. These measures include the regulation of directory enquiry service tariffs, allowing operators to extend the length of mobile telephone numbers and increase efficiency in number management to reduce shortages.

NETHERLANDS, BELGIUM AND LUXEMBOURG

* Proximus reported it ended the second quarter of 2018 with a 2.6% revenue growth, totaling €1.45 billion, while it also reported an underlying EBITDA of €493 million, representing a year-over-year increase of 6.1%. Proximus' underlying operating expenses for the second quarter were up by 0.7%, which was mainly attributable to the consolidation of TeleSign Corp.

* Dutch operator KPN NV will terminate its 3G network in 2022, saying it will use the released capacity to expand its 4G network, reports De Telegraaf. According to the provider, 95% of its customer currently have a phone that is suitable for 4G.

* The European Commission will postpone the deadline of the investigation into Deutsche Telekom AG unit T-Mobile Netherlands' planned takeover of Tele2 AB unit Tele2 Netherlands, reports AD. Reasons for the delay have not been disclosed.

NORDIC COUNTRIES

* Fitch Ratings announced that it has lifted its outlook on telecom equipment maker Ericsson to stable from negative and affirmed the long-term issuer default rating and senior unsecured rating at BBB-. The agency cited the stabilization of the global mobile infrastructure market and Ericsson's improving financial performance, increased research and development expenditure, and continued cost-cutting.

* Cristina Stenbeck has earned around 200 million Swedish kronor from the sale of 663,000 B shares in digital enterprise investor Kinnevik AB, reports Affärsvärlden. The divestment was made through Verdere Sàrl, Stenback's Luxembourg-based investment holding firm.

* Elekta AB has bought Canadian quality assurance firm Acumyn Inc. and will expand machine data acquisition and analysis across its healthcare platforms.

* EQT Infrastructure will sell its offshore communication infrastructure provider Tampnet AS to 3i Infrastructure PLC and Danish ATP pension fund. Tampnet delivers offshore fiber-backed communication services to the oil and gas industry in remote locations.

SOUTHERN EUROPE

* Telefónica SA sold a 16.65% stake in its subsidiary Pontel Participaciones SL, which owns 60% of the share capital of Telxius Telecom SA, to a company of the Pontegadea Group for €378.8 million, or a price of €15.2 per share of Telxius. The Pontel stake sale is equivalent, in economic terms, to an indirect participation of 9.99% in the share capital of Telxius.

* Mediaset SpA's board has accepted a proposal to terminate the contract of Chairman Fedele Confalonieri as an employee July 31 while allowing him to keep his position on the board. The decision came as the Italian broadcaster reported its first-half results, with net revenues of about €1.85 billion.

* Cellnex Telecom SA, via its Tradia Telecom SA unit, will acquire Xarxa Oberta de Catalunya, a fiber services provider in Spain's Catalonia region, for €34 million, Telecompaper reports. The Spanish telecom towers operator agreed to acquire XOC from Imagina Media Audiovisual SL, the parent entity of broadcaster Mediapro.

* Vodafone España SAU has begun 5G trials in the Spanish cities of Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia, Bilbao, Malaga and Seville, Telecompaper reports. The tests fellow the Vodafone Group PLC unit's acquisition of 5G spectrum in a recent auction.

EASTERN EUROPE

* Czech investment group PPF Group NV has secured regulatory approval from the European Commission for its proposed acquisition of Telenor ASA's Central European businesses, Reuters reports.

* U.S. tech companies Broadcom Corp. and Xilinx Inc. have stopped shipping some electronic components to Russian customers despite not being on the list of firms under U.S. sanctions, Reuters reports, citing sources. Tech firms are reportedly worried that the components could be transferred to companies subject to U.S. sanctions or could be used in weapons systems.

* Polish direct-to-home operator nc+ has struck a deal with national commercial broadcaster Polsat that will see the former to continue airing UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League matches, Broadband TV News reports. In line with the deal, nc+ will add two new channels and pay-per-view services from Polsat Sport Premium.

FEATURED NEWS

Analysts: BT leadership uncertainty clouds improved performance: Little detail on a succession plan to replace British Telecom's outgoing CEO Gavin Patterson clouds the improved performance of the U.K. telecoms giant, according to analysts.

Hires and Fires Europe: TIM unit CEO resigns; UPC Switzerland COO promoted to CEO: S&P Global Market Intelligence presents a biweekly rundown of executive and board changes in the European media and communications industries.

FEATURED RESEARCH

Economics of Advertising: Cardinals push FOX Sports Midwest to top regional sports network rating in June: FOX Sports Midwest (in the St. Louis market) scored the highest prime-time rating for regional sports networks in June with a 2.91. FOX Sports Midwest's month-leading rating ranks 263rd on June's all-time prime-time list since 2011.

RECENT EARNINGS

Amadeus IT posts higher first-half profit YOY: The company reported adjusted profit of €606.8 million, or €1.41 per share, in the first half.

Twitter Q2 revenue up 23.8% YOY: Twitter reported a 23.8% year-over-year gain in revenue for the second quarter to $710.5 million, up from $573.9 million in the prior-year period.

Anne Freier, Amanda Kelly, Charlotte van Hek and Gerard O'Dwyer contributed to this report.

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