* Regal Entertainment Group is discussing a potential merger deal with U.K. movie chain Cineworld Group plc. Under the proposed transaction, Cineworld would purchase Regal Entertainment in an all-cash transaction worth $23 per share, Regal confirmed, adding there can be no assurance that these discussions will result in a deal.
* AT&T Inc. and the U.S. Department of Justice are locked in a dispute over when to start the trial for the latter's lawsuit to block the telecom giant's merger with Time Warner Inc. In a court filing cited by Deadline.com, AT&T said it wants the trial to begin on or about Feb. 20, 2018, while the DOJ proposed the trial to start May 7, 2018, which comes after the new April 22, 2018, deadline agreed upon by the companies.
* With Alphabet Inc. and Facebook Inc. dominating digital advertising, some economists and antitrust experts suggest mergers of traditional providers should be approved, while others believe regulators should limit the size of the new media giants. In defending AT&T's proposed deal against charges that it is anti-competitive, CEO Randall Stephenson noted players in the communications and media are increasingly competing against "massive, large-scale internet companies with market caps in the hundreds of billions of dollars," all of whom are distributing content and advertising directly to consumers.
* Analysts expect the combined company to divest some well-known magazines that do not align as closely with the rest of its women's and lifestyle portfolios. The deal between Meredith Corp. and Time Inc., expected to close in the first quarter of 2018, would result in a combined entity with readership of 135 million and paid circulation of nearly 60 million.
* 21st Century Fox Inc. unit FoxNext Games division teamed up with game studio Creative Mobile to develop a mobile game based on hit series "The X-Files," Variety reports. Called "The X-Files: Deep State," the mystery-investigation puzzle game will release in February 2018. FOX (US) will premiere the 11th season of "The X-Files" on Jan. 3, 2018.
Internet & OTT
* Netflix Inc. will premiere original series "Sex Education" on the streaming platform in 2019. The comedy drama series will begin production in the U.K. in spring 2018, the company said.
* Microsoft Corp. is revamping its 500-acre campus in Redmond, Wash., to expand operations and house an additional 8,000 people. According to an official blog post, the multiyear project to overhaul the campus will include 18 new buildings, 6.7 million square feet of renovated work space, $150 million in transportation infrastructure improvements, public spaces, sports fields and green space.
* Rosenblatt China Technology analyst Jun Zhang said Apple Inc. sold 15 million units during the Black Friday period, including 6 million iPhone Xs, StreetInsider.com reports. Also, Zhang expects the tech giant to increase iPhone production to 4 million units per week in December from 3 million units per week.
* The National Board of Review named "The Post" to be the best film for 2017, with Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep taking the top awards for acting in "The Post," the NBR said. "Coco" was named the best animated movie, while "Foxtrot" was named the best foreign-language film.
Regulation & Policy
* As Russia beefs up its regulatory control over the country's media, businesses try to grapple with the new rules. Analysts said it may be impossible for foreign companies to comply because of expensive and technically challenging requirements.
The day ahead
Early morning futures indicators pointed to a higher opening for the U.S. market.
In Asia, the Hang Seng fell 0.19% to 29,623.83, and the Nikkei 225 was up 0.49% to 22,597.20.
In Europe, as of midday, the FTSE 100 dropped 0.57% to 7,418.30, and the Euronext 100 had climbed 0.63% to 1,050.22.
On the macro front
The MBA mortgage applications report, the GDP report, the pending home sales index, the EIA petroleum status report and the Beige Book are due out today.
The Daily Dose Europe: Liberty Global mulls Swiss, Austrian exits; Pantaflix, Disney in content deal: Liberty Global plc is exploring a potential sale of its Austrian and Swiss units to enable a merger with Vodafone Group Plc, while German video-on-demand service Pantaflix AG struck a deal to offer Walt Disney Co. films on its platform.
M&A Replay: Asia-Pacific: WPP to sell ADK stake; SoftBank to invest US$1B in Ola, Flipkart: WPP Plc agreed to tender all of its 24.9% stake in Japan's Asatsu-DK Inc., while SoftBank Group Corp. is set to purchase about US$1 billion worth of shares in Indian ride-hailing startup Ola Cabs and e-commerce giant Flipkart.
The Daily Dose Asia-Pacific: Google forming AI team in China; SoftBank wants 30% discount on Uber shares: Jeff Dean, head of Google Inc.'s Brain Team, confirmed that Google is building an AI team in China, while a SoftBank-led consortium is seeking a 30% discount to its purchase of a majority stake in Uber Technologies Inc.
Economics of Advertising: Q3'17 cable network earnings reveal a sluggish ad market: Third-quarter earnings from the major programmers were mixed as the majority reported declining year-over-year ad revenue.
Wireless Investor: Finland is Europe's most data hungry country, with LTE topping 50% of total pops: Access to affordable and unlimited LTE networks driving nascent trend of substituting slower fixed-line internet for mobile broadband.
Economics of Networks: Cable Program Investor: Table of contents for Issue No. 240, published November 2017.
Broadcast Investor: Retrans database update: CBS/DISH resolve disruption swiftly: CBS Corp. pulled its stations from DISH Network Corp. following a Nov. 21 deadline but ended the dispute after just four days.
Economics of Internet: YouTube MCNs maintain healthy viewing audiences in Q3'17: Leading multi-channel networks accounted for more than one in every four video minutes viewed at YouTube in the U.S. in the third quarter.
Economics of Networks: John Malone's 500-channel future rewinds to a nifty, thrifty package of 50: Chiller is joining what will likely be a long list of roadkill in an industry where the view was once the more networks on the air the merrier.
Multichannel Trends: Aggregate 9-month cable commercial revenue crosses $10B: Performance pushed the segment's contribution to top U.S. cable operators' overall revenues past 13% at the end of nine months, up from 12.5% over the same period in 2016.
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