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Hutchison in talks to buy Telenor's VimpelCom stake; Netflix orders 1st Spanish series

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Hutchison in talks to buy Telenor's VimpelCom stake; Netflix orders 1st Spanish series

TOP NEWS

* Norwegiantelecom group TelenorASA may be closer to finding a buyer for its stake in Russiantelecom company VimpelComLtd., Dagens Næringsliv reports,citing Vedomosti. Hong Kong-basedinvestment group CK Hutchison Holdings Ltd. is reportedly in talks to acquireTelenor's 33% stake and Luxembourg investment group LetterOne's 56% stake inVimpelCom. Hutchison and VimpelCom have already a merger between theirbusinesses in Italy, but the European Commission said that it will the merger. Telenorhas been looking for a buyer for their VimpelCom stake since fall 2015.

* ordered its firstoriginal drama series filmed entirely in Spain. The first season of the dramaseries, which will start production in Madrid in 2016 and feature 16 episodes,will debut exclusively on the streaming service around the globe in 2017,according to a company news release.The series is produced by Madrid-based Bambú Producciones, led by Ramón Camposand Teresa Fernández Valdés, and co-created by Gema Neira.

*Sky plc is sellingits headquarters and studios in Osterley, west London, for £545 million, The Daily Telegraph of London reports.The British pay TV giant tapped BNP Paribas Real Estate to find a buyer for thebuildings, which it plans to rent back via an expected 30-year agreement. Skycould either reinvest the sale's proceeds into the core areas of its businessor use them to pay down some of its gross debt worth £7.7 billion, according tothe report.

PAN-EUROPEAN

* struck anagreement with Ströer Content Group GmbH to sell its subsidiaries, includingthe company's StayFriends social networking units in Europe. The €16 milliondeal includes cash of €6.5 million on StayFriends' balance sheet, to a news release.The StayFriends unit includes international websites in Germany, Sweden,Austria, Switzerland and France. The transaction is expected to close by April30 and is subject to the German Antitrust Act.

UK AND IRELAND

* acquired distribution rights to programs by 's in-houseproduction arm 5Production, TBI Visionreports.The Viacom Inc. unitgrabbed the rights from independent content distributor DRG, which will retainthe rights to previous shows from the British broadcaster. The move isreportedly part of efforts to integrate Channel 5 into VIMN. Viacom acquiredChannel 5 in 2014.

*ITV America will rely on U.K. formats as part of its entertainment and comedypush for the big U.S. broadcast networks, Broadcastreports.The ITV Plc unit's CEOBrent Montgomery saidthat they will tap ITV Studios and its indie partners to develop formatssimilar to its reality cooking show "Hell's Kitchen."

*British telecom regulator Ofcom introduced an interactive tool named Mobile andBroadband Checker, which will allow consumers to check the quality of mobileand broadband services across the U.K. In a news release,Ofcom said users will need to enter a postcode on the service to checkinformation such as mobile coverage, broadband availability and averagedownload speeds. Ofcom's original Mobile Coverage Checker was launched in 2015.

GERMANY, SWITZERLAND ANDAUSTRIA

* TheSamwer brothers joined a $1 million funding round for Berlin startup Opinary, reportsGruenderszene. Opinary has developed a press compass, which allows readers toposition themselves across a spectrum of opinions on news articles and othercontent. Other investors include Motu Ventures as well as the founder ofportals Home24, Trivago and eDarling.

*The German broadcast contribution for public broadcasters ARD and ZDF couldincrease to €19 per month from €17.50 during the coming contribution period.The increase could be implemented despite a recommendation by the Germancommission for broadcast financial means, Kommission zur Ermittlung desFinanzbedarfs der Rundfunkanstalten, or KEF, to lower the payments to €17.21. Accordingto Meedia, KEF is in favor of lowering the contribution from 2017, because ARDand ZDF would be receiving more financial means from 2017 to 2020 thannecessary.

* Amember of the management team at digital agency Ringier Axel SpringerSwitzerland, Jörg Tobuschat, announced his departure, reportsWerbewoche. He has been responsible for programming media as well as the usermarket and will be succeeded by Markus Will. Tobuschat has been working fordigital publisher Axel SpringerSE in Germany and Switzerland since 1992.

*German producers' alliance Produzentenallianz defended a basic points paperwritten together with German public broadcaster ARD against harsh criticismfrom independent unions, reportsDWDL. Five different producer and copyright unions have complained about thepaper being "misleading to factually wrong." The paper offers aminimum standard for producers, and unions are reportedly worried this could bedamaging smaller producers.

FRANCE

* TheFrench ministry of finance may be at odds with President François Hollande onthe Bouygues Telecomdeal, Les Echos reports.The state is concerned that its current stake in Orange will be too dilutedafter the merger. The finance minister would like to impose a standstill clauseon the deal that would prevent Bouygues Group from raising capital too fast after thesale of its subsidiary Bouygues Telecom to Orange. The ultimate decision is up to the FrenchPresident.

*France and Monaco signed an agreement on frequency coordination of terrestrial mobilenetworks across their borders, Univers Freebox reports.Through this agreement, French operators will deploy new antennas in Monaco toimprove reception for mobile users. The new agreement sets out the regulatoryframework for the operation of mobile networks on both sides of the border andwill become the basis for licensing contracts between the Monegasque state andFrench mobile operators licensed in the principality. A change to the previous2011 agreement became necessary to accommodate new technologies such as 4G andnew frequencies allocated to these networks.

*The new public news television channel in France will be named France Info, Le Figaro reports.The new public service channel will be operated by , Radio France,France Média Monde and INA. The name France Info, already used for publicradio, has not yet been officially announced as the channel's brand.  Journalists from France 2, France 3 andFrancetv Info voiced concerns that the brand could be confusing to viewers. Thenew channel is scheduled to launch on Sept. 1.

*Sophie Gourmelen was named general manager and director of publication of Le Parisien and Aujourd'hui en France both for print and web, Les Echos reports.She previously served as deputy director of digital marketing for Groupe LesEchos. Francis Morel, chairman of Groupe Les Echos and Groupe Le Parisien, saidthat Gourmelen will reverse the downward curve of newspaper sales and bettermonetize the 12 million unique visitors to the website. Morel added that Le Parisien is currently operating at aloss and the goal is to break even by 2017 or 2018.

NETHERLANDS, BELGIUM ANDLUXEMBOURG

* Belgianoperator Mobistar ischanging its name to Orange Belgium on May 4, reportsDe Tijd. After 20 years, the brandMobistar will disappear. The name change was announced earlier. Mobistar initiallywanted to keep its name, but was forced by major stockholder Orange, accordingto the report.

*Local broadcaster RTV Dordrecht saidthat it will stop making linear television broadcasts. The broadcaster said itwas forced to make the decision because it will receive a smaller subsidy fromthe city of Dordrecht. RTV Dordrecht now wants to focus on the new media and onradio.

*Belgian operator Proximus deleted the meditation and relaxation stationMyZen TV from its lineup, reportsDigitaleTV. The provider has decided not to extend the contract with MyZen TV.MyZen TV broadcasts in HD and was part of the packages Multi and Nature &Discovery.

*Dutch cable company Delta launched a beta version of its new Delta TV app, accordingto a news release. All Internet customers of Delta/ZeelandNet can watch live TVwith the new app on a tablet or smartphone. The new app offers access to moretelevision channels.

NORDIC COUNTRIES

*Danish telecom group TDCA/S acquired tech company Cirque for an undisclosed sum, Mobil reports.Cirque offers cloud-based communications solutions and has 18,000 users. Thecompany will become a brand under TDC's business customer division.

*Norwegian investment company Atlantis Vest acquired Danish technology companyAvit-Systems and its subsidiaries in Norway and Sweden, Mediawatch reports.Avit-Systems is the technology company of Danish media group Nordjyske Medier,and has increasingly specialized in technical solutions to broadcasters and AVcompanies. Nordjyske is selling the company as part of a group streamliningprocess. Financial details were not disclosed.

*Danish media group Aller Media is firing 12 employees as part of cost-cuttingmeasures, Journalisten reports.Aller Media saw losses of 17.6 million Danish kroner in the 2014-2015 financialyear.

SOUTHERN EUROPE

*Portuguese public broadcaster RTP wants to migrate all content on its flagshipchannel RTP to HD by the second half of 2017, Advanced Television reports.Channels RTP 2 and RTP 3 are also reportedly eyed for HD migration by 2020. RTPcurrently airs select programs in HD via dedicated channel RTP 1 HD. In 2016,RTP will reintroduce its streaming service RTP Play, according to the report.

*Telefónica SA willraise the subscription fees of its pay TV packages Canal+ Series and Cinema inSpain by May 1, Telecompaper reports.  The price of Spanish operator's Canal+ Seriespackage will reportedly increase by €2 to €7 a month, while its Cinema packagewill go up by €1 to €10 a month.

*The Italian Ministry of Economic Development struck the first agreements with threeItalian regions regarding the rollout of a national broadband network, Telecompaper reports.The ministry will set aside €240 million for fiber infrastructure in theTuscany region, particularly in "white zones" that failed to attractprivate investment. The agency will also allocate €450 million to expand thefiber network in the Lombardy region, as well as €99 million in the Abruzzoregion.

EASTERN EUROPE

* unit AMCNetworks International – Central Europe entered into a distribution deal withDIGI Slovakia and SlovakTelekom for AMC(US), Advanced Television reports,citing a company statement. DIGI Slovakia and Slovak Telekom will add AMC totheir lineups in Slovakia starting April 1. AMC will reportedly join SlovakTelekom's BASIC satellite package MAGIO TV M. Slovak viewers will be able towatch the second season of "Fear the Walking Dead," which will debuton AMC on April 11. Slovak Telekom is a unit of .

*Former and existing nc+ subscribers affected by the Polish platform's suddenprice increase in 2015 will receive financial compensation from its operatorITI Neovision, Broadband TV News reports,citing SATKurier. The move is reportedly part of an agreement with Polishcompetition watchdog UOKiK. Several subscribers were reportedly charged highersubscription fees between January 2015 and the end of January 2016 due to suspensionof certain nc+ services. VivendiSA owns nc+.

*A+E Networks struck adeal with Orange's Polish unit Orange Polska to add A+E Network channels to Orange TV'sIPTV platform, Digital TV Europe reports.Under the deal, History channel will be added to Orange's Optimal, Rich and Maxpackages, while Crime+Investigation, H2 and Lifetime will be available only onRich and Max bundles, Walt DisneyCo. and HearstCorp. jointly own A+E Networks.

*Slovenian telecom and power infrastructure firm Garnol filed a new complaintwith the country's Constitutional Court, after Slovenia's High Court initiatedbankruptcy proceedings against operator T-2 doo, Telecompaper reports,citing Slovenian press agency STA. Garnol, which owns 98% of T-2, wants the Constitutional Court to issue atemporary suspension of bankruptcy proceedings before it releases its decisionon the matter, according to the report. The Slovenian Constitutional Courtpreviously haltedbankruptcy proceedings against T-2 in September 2015.

FEATURED NEWS

: The news that Netflix wasreducing quality on certain mobile streams was met with protests from manyindustry participants, but analysts told SNL Kagan that there will not likelybe any long-term effects.

: SNL Kagan presents a weekly rundown ofexecutive changes in the media and communications industries.

: A source told SNL Kagan that Sony is prepping a morepowerful version of its PlayStation 4 console to support 4K Ultra HD gaming andvideo. Analysts weigh in on its prospects.

: In this bi-weeklyfeature, SNL Kagan provides a roundup of significant recent regulatory eventsin Europe.

: AT&T and its unit DIRECTVrejected Time Warner Cable's six-year deal to carry regional sports networkSportsNet LA, while Microsoft's Windows 10 operating system is now running onup to 270 million monthly active devices.

FEATURED RESEARCH

Economics of Internet: Surging Facebook propels social ad revenuesto new highs in 2015: Social ad revenues generated by Facebook,Twitter and LinkedIn continued to soar in 2015, with their strong mobilepresences the primary growth driver.

Economics ofTV & Film: 'Star Wars' poised for huge video release in April:"Star Wars: The Force Awakens" will populate video retail shelvesApril 5 — four days after its digital debut April 1 — and is poised to be thetop April 2016 home video release and likely the top video release in 2016.

Economics ofAdvertising: CBS leads domestic broadcasters in February Nielsenratings: CBS and ABC rang up the biggest ratings in February withflagship events like the Super Bowl, Grammys and Oscars. Presidential debateswith Donald Trump were an extra draw.

BroadcastInvestor: Broadcast public trading multiples: TV, radio stocks underperform inbroader market March rebound: Broadcast stock prices on average inMarch have been facing headwinds despite potential sale or spinoffannouncements from Tribune and CBS along with the start of the FCC IncentiveAuction, which could fill the coffers of some major TV station group owners.

Economics ofInternet: UK leads Netflix's international march: Netflix is makingstrong imprints in territories around the world, reaching some 27.4 millionsubs outside the U.S. at the end of 2015.

Sylvia EdwardsDavis, Anne Freier, Kees Pijnappels and Esben Svendsen contributed to thisreport. The Daily Dose has an editorial deadline of 7 a.m. London time. Someexternal links may require a subscription.