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Amazon to face €10M fine in France; Kaspersky appeals against US ban

TOP NEWS

* France accused Amazon.com Inc. of abusing its dominant market position and is seeking a fine of €10 million, Le Parisien reported. In a complaint filed in Paris Commerce Court, the government said that an investigation by the consumer fraud office concluded that Amazon imposed unfair conditions on small vendors, such as shorter delivery times.

* Russia's Kaspersky Lab ZAO said it filed an appeal with a U.S. federal court to overturn the Department of Homeland Security's directive banning the use of its products in federal government agencies. In its appeal, Kaspersky Lab argued that the department's order is "unconstitutional and relied on subjective, non-technical public sources."

PAN-EUROPEAN

* European Union's top court on Dec. 20 will decide on whether Uber Technologies Inc. should be considered a digital company, a transport company, or both, Reuters reports.

UK AND IRELAND

* Discovery Communications Inc. announced the U.K. launch of Motor Trend OnDemand, a premium subscription motoring-focused video-on-demand offering. The platform offers hundreds of hours of content.

* Twitter Inc. has blocked the accounts of political organization Britain First's leader Paul Golding, together with his deputy Jayda Fransen, BBC News reports. Britain First's official Twitter page has also been blocked. The social media company's move to suspend these accounts comes after the group and Fransen posted anti-Muslim content, which was later retweeted by U.S. President Donald Trump.

* Uber Technologies Inc. operating license in the city of Cambridge has been extended for five years, Reuters reports.

* Liberty Global plc's board approved a new $2.0 billion share repurchase program with respect to Liberty Global Group class A and class C shares. The program is expected to complete by year-end 2018, the company said Dec. 18. Liberty Global may buy the shares, or any combination of class A and class C ordinary shares, from time to time.

* Consumers in the U.K. benefit from a high availability of superfast broadband and the country has a higher utilization of online services, such as video-on-demand and online shopping, compared to most other developed countries, British regulator Ofcom said. In its report, the International Communications Market Report 2017, Ofcom compared consumer behavior in the U.K. with 16 other countries in terms of online content consumption.

* The British Broadcasting Corp. announced that BBC Two (UK) has commissioned a documentary about Harvey Weinstein. The 90-minute film will be produced by Lightbox.

* Channel 4 (UK) Group Finance Director Glyn Isherwood will be joining the BBC as the company's group finance and operations director, from the start of 2018. Glyn will head the broadcasting company's finance and procurement teams, hold overall responsibility for Workplace and Studioworks and will also be a part of the executive committee.

GERMANY, SWITZERLAND AND AUSTRIA

* Google Inc.'s YouTube Germany has shut down four channels with right-wing music videos upon request by German regulator Medienanstalt Hamburg/Schleswig-Holstein. The videos in the blocked channels of the Alphabet Inc. unit's platform violated the youth media law.

* German media company Highlight Communications AG has published its takeover offer of €2.30 per share for Constantin Medien AG. The deadline for the offer is Jan. 27, 2018.

FRANCE

* French data protection authority CNIL called on Facebook Inc.'s WhatsApp Inc. to comply with data privacy laws in the country within a month or face fines, Reuters reports. WhatsApp has been slammed for sharing its user data with its parent company, which is in violation of French laws.

* Amazon Web Services Inc. has launched a new region in France, allowing customers to run applications and store data in the country. France becomes the fourth European region in EU after Germany, Ireland and the U.K.

* Altice NV unit Altice USA Inc. updated its Spanish and Russian-language TV packages and unveiled a new French offering. The enhanced Spanish-language TV packages for Optimum and Suddenlink Communications customers feature content including music, movies, as well as kids and lifestyle programming, the company said. The French-language offering included networks like BFMTV and i24 News news channels and entertainment channel TV5MONDE. The Russian-language offering added comedy network THT.

* Groupe M6 announced its debut in Africa with its involvement in creating a new general interest channel in the Ivory Coast called Life TV. It will acquire a 33% stake in the Ivorian company, also called Life TV.

* The French-language version of Russia Today launched Monday on cable and satellite, the internet and via Iliad Free box on channel 359, CB News reports. Bouygues Telecom SA has already signed a broadcasting agreement for as early as February 2018.

* The Les Echos-Le Parisien group announced its roadmap and ambitions for 2018, according to CB News. Le Parisian will continue to develop its paywall, which has been in place for a few months, while, as Les Echos expects to have more digital than print subscribers in 2018, the focus will be the development of a differentiated digital subscriber experience.

NETHERLANDS, BELGIUM AND LUXEMBOURG

* The Court of Appeal of Antwerp has rejected a claim by Proximus, which demanded €1.36 billion in compensation from Telenet and several other Flemish cable companies, De Tijd reports. According to Proximus, a 2008 deal between a group of Flemish cable companies has been unlawful due to the absence of a market consultation and has caused damage to Proximus' business.

* Dutch regulator Authority for Consumers and Markets will postpone the presentation of new regulations for fixed networks, which was scheduled for 2017, TotaalTV reports. The new regulations should reportedly allow ACM to establish maximum prices for the Ziggo NV network, a measure that already exists for KPN NVs cable network.

* De Persgroep NV's De Persgroep Publishing announced that CEO Koen Verwee is leaving the company and will be replaced by former CEO Rudy Bertels, who will focus on the integration of recently acquired Medialaan.

*KPN's mobile virtual network operator Simyo has lowered prices of its 4GB and 2GB subscriptions, effective Dec. 18, Tweakers reports. Simyo also introduces the option to purchase an 8GB mobile data supplement for €17 per month.

NORDIC COUNTRIES

* Telia Co. AB said it agreed to buy Finnish ICT company Inmics Oy for an enterprise value of €75 million on a cash and debt-free basis. Post deal completion, Inmics will become an independent unit of Telia while working closely with recently acquired ICT service company Nebula Oy.

* Opera Software ASA approved a change in the company's name to Otello Corp. ASA in an extraordinary general meeting, according to a regulatory disclosure.

* VideoNor A/S has merged with Appear.in A/S, reports Shifter.no. Telenor ASA, which owned Appear.in, will hold a 30% shareholding in the merged company. VideoNor and Appear.in operate in the online video conferencing services area.

* Modern Times Group named Flemmig Fjeldgaard as head of Viaplay's Danish unit, Digitalt.tv reports. Viaplay Denmark is a premium live-streaming service for sports and entertainment programming.

SOUTHERN EUROPE

* Luxembourg-based Cube Infrastructure Managers SA is investing an undisclosed amount in Portuguese operator DSTelecom, Telecompaper reports, citing Jornal de Negocios. The investment will help support DSTelecom's plans to expand its fiber-optic coverage to 500,000 homes over a two-year period.

* Spain's Pepephone, owned by MásMóvil Ibercom SA, will require its subscribers to change their SIM card prior to their transfer to the Yoigo network, Telecompaper reports, citing ADSL Zone. The migration will take place over the coming months.

* Telecom Italia SpA and the city council of Catania in Sicily, Italy, are teaming up to develop smart services to help boost digital development in the city, Telecompaper reports. The partnership entails the launch of internet of things-based "Bus as a Sensor" and "Smart Urban Garden" solutions.

EASTERN EUROPE

* Tomáš Budník is stepping down as chairman and CEO of O2 Czech Republic, effective Dec. 31. The telco's supervisory board elected current Chief Commercial Officer Jindrich Fremuth to take over as CEO from Jan. 1, 2018. Fremuth will also serve on the company's board.

* PAO Sberbank of Russia is considering the acquisition of a stake in a messaging platform for corporate communication and has identified Dialog as a target, Telecompaper reports, citing Tdaily.ru. The bank has identified the Dialog platform as a target for the stake acquisition, according to the report, citing Vedomosti.

* Subscribers of Macedonian operator Vip's Kombo package will be able to access the HBO On Demand service free of charge for three months as part of a promotion, Telecompaper reports.

* TVN SA's board began talks with National Broadcasting Council head Witold Kolodziejski over a fine worth €352,000 imposed on the Polish broadcaster, Broadband TV News reports. The fine is due to the Scripps Networks Interactive Inc. unit's alleged biased reporting of protests outside Poland's parliament early in December, Broadband TV News said in an earlier report.

* Slovak public broadcaster RTVS outlined its budgetary targets for 2018, with projected total revenues of about €129.5 million and a budget surplus of €800,000, Broadband TV News reports, citing Medialne. RTVS also plans to revamp its organizational structure by adding new media, program production, and sports departments.

FEATURED NEWS

Q&A: Investec exec: TMT sector to brace for M&A windfall in 2018: S&P Global Market Intelligence spoke with Christian Hess, head of the financial sponsor transaction group at international specialist banking and asset management group Investec, to discuss the private equity outlook for the TMT sector in 2018.

FEATURED RESEARCH

Broadcast Investor: New Fox's focus on live news/sports includes potential M&A for station group: The owned-and-operated station group is expected to take a higher role in the 21st Century Fox Inc. assets to be spun off as part of its $66.1 billion sale to Walt Disney Co.

Anne Freier, Amanda Kelly, Koen Pijnappels and Gerard O'Dwyer contributed to this report. The Daily Dose has an editorial deadline of 7 a.m. London time. Some external links may require a subscription.