*Getty Images Inc.said in a news release that it filed a competition law complaint against with the EuropeanCommission. The complaint follows on from Getty Images' submission in June2015, when it joinedas an interested third party in support of the European Commission's existinginvestigation into the AlphabetInc. unit's anti-competitive business practices. Getty Images'complaint focuses specifically on changes made in 2013 to Google Images, theimage search functionality of Google.
* EUantitrust authorities in Brussels are expected to issue a statement ofobjections to CK Hutchison Holdings Ltd. and VimpelCom Ltd. in June, regarding the proposed merger oftheir respective Italian units 3 Italia and WIND Telecomunicazioni SpA, Bloomberg News reports,citing three sources familiar with the matter. The European Commission isconducting anin-depth probe of the proposed joint venture over concerns of possible priceincreases and reduced choices for customers. The EC is also studyingHutchison's plan to acquire Telefónica SA's O2 unit in the U.K., and is expected toveto the deal soon.
UK AND IRELAND
*FremantleMedia Ltd.agreed to acquire a stake of almost 35% in London-based soccer media companySquawka, the RTLGroup unit said in a statement.The investment, financial terms of which were not disclosed, is expected tocomplement The Football Republic, a soccer fan network operated byFremantleMedia's digital studio Shotglass Media. FremantleMedia has options toboost its stake in Squawka in the future.
*BBC Worldwide Ltd. isset to launch a new subscription video-on-demand service named BBC Player, accordingto a news release. The platform will be initially available to customers ofSingaporean operator StarHubLtd.'s StarHub TV service inlate 2016. BBC Player users will be able to watch a mix of content from BBCEarth, BBC First, BBC Lifestyle, CBeebies (UK), BBC World News (US) and a new channel named BBC Brit.BBC Worldwide is the commercial arm of the British Broadcasting Corp.
*Amazon.com Inc. namedDoug Gurr country manager for the U.K., Reuters reports.Gurr currently heads the e-commerce giant's Chinese business. He will succeedChristopher North, who is stepping down in May to join digital imaging companyShutterfly Inc.
*Virgin Media Inc.promised to speed up the rollout of fiber broadband services to about 1 millionhomes and business across the U.K. as part of its Project Lightning initiative.In a news release,the Liberty Globalplc unit also said that it aims to connect 17 million premises toits network by 2019. Meanwhile, rival operator is also conductingtrials of direct fiber connections to homes, in a bid to offer faster Internetservices, the Financial Times(London) reports.
GERMANY, SWITZERLAND ANDAUSTRIA
*Telekom Austria Groupprofits fell slightly in the first quarter of 2016, with revenues falling 2.2%to €1 billion and EBITDA dropping 2.5% to €334.4 million. Handelsblatt reportsthat with the first quarter, Telekom Austria adapted the reporting structure ofits majority shareholder, AméricaMóvil SAB de CV.
*ProSiebenSat.1 PULS 4 unveiled a new digital strategy, accordingto a news release posted on Ots.at. 4GameChanger is a new digital format whichincludes puls4.com, streaming apps, mobile video news offers, marketing,startups as well as VOD services.
*German managed hosting services provider PlusServer GmbH announced the takeoverof IT company MCS Moorbek Computer Systeme GmbH as well as OpenIT GmbH, according to a newsrelease. The acquisition enables PlusServer to accumulate additional expertisewithin IT security as well as software development and system solutions. Thecompany also announced the expansion of its German IT center network with thelaunch of two additional German sites.
*SFR that it is parent companyAltice NV's 49%minority stake in NextRadioTV. The proposed deal values NextRadioTV at €741million. It operates TV group BFMTV and radio station RMC, among others. SFRadded that it is in exclusive talks to acquire Altice's Altice Media GroupFrance, which publishes over 20 national titles, including Libération, L'Express, L'Expansion, L'Etudiant and Stratégies. The proposed deal valuesAltice Media Group France at €241 million, to be presented to relevant bodiesrepresenting employees of Altice Media Group France for consultation.
*Meanwhile, SFR is also planning to launch sports channels SFR Sport 1, SFRSport 2, SFR Sport 3, SFR Sport 4 and SFR Sport 5, which will be offered aswell to rival operators, Broadband TV News reports.SFR Sport 1 will reportedly become the operator's main premium sports channel,while SFR Sport 2 will carry Ma Chaine Sport programming like Premiership Rugbyand circuit WTA games. SFR will axe thematic sports channels Ma Chaine Sportand MCS Tennis following the launch of the new channels, according to thereport.
*Music streaming giant Deezeris increasingly focusing on niche content, the company's chief internationalofficer, Gerrit Schumann, told SNL Kagan. He said that going "above andbeyond music" would be core to Deezer's future growth prospects and thatthis could drive further consolidation in a bid to secure further contentniches. Aside from being home to one of the world's largest music streamingcatalogs with more than 35 million tracks and over 6 million subscribers,Paris-based Deezer is more and more targeting smaller, niche areas of streamingaudio, on the fringes of music streaming rival platforms like , and 's Apple Music.
*French video game publisher Ubisoft will open an amusement center based on thevideo game series "Rabbids Invasion" in Montreal, Canada, reportsLe Figaro. The center is expected to open in August. Accordingto the Montreal Gazette, the projectrepresents a seven-digit investment for Ubisoft and will be able to accommodateseveral hundred people.
*French media group Canal PlusSA asked France's broadcasting regulator CSA for permission torename several of its channels, reportsUnivers Freebox. The company wants to change the names of D8, D17 and iTélé, toC8, C17 and CNews, with "C" representing Canal+. The name changecould take place by September.
*French newspaper Le Figaro is offeringfree premium access to its digital content on 28 April. The move is a responseto a country-wide general strike in France, which includes printers unions, andaffects delivery of the newspaper's print edition.
*Faced with rising production costs, French satirical newspaper Le Gorafi launched a crowdfundingcampaign, reportsLe Soir. Le Gorafi aims to raise €25,000 to ensure its editorialindependence and has already reached 58% of the target, according to thereport. Donors receive rewards related to amounts paid. One of the supposedfundraising goals is to procure €100,000 to purchase French media companyCanal+.
NETHERLANDS, BELGIUM ANDLUXEMBOURG
*Belgian publisher De Persgroep Publishing acquired website Spaargids.be, thecompany said in a news release.Spaargids.be is a popular comparison website for banking and insurance.Spaargids.be was founded in 2006 by Kristof De Paepe and has since become thelargest independent financial comparison website in Belgium. De Paepe will stayon as managing director.
*Belgian telco Proximus concluded an agreement with the unions on theearly retirement of employees from age 60, DeTijd reports.Proximus estimates that in the next three years, 1,300 of its 14,000 workerswill opt for early retirement. The company plans to reduce staffing costs andwants to recruit young workers who are familiar with IT, computer security andbig data.
*Customers of Proximus' low-cost unit Scarlet can use their mobile phone inother EU countries at Belgian rates, starting April 29, De Tijd reports.According to new European regulations, operators may still just charge a fewcents extra for roaming. Scarlet director Bruno Delhaise says his companyoffers free roaming because the Belgians are very reluctant to use their phoneabroad because of the extra costs. Scarlet limits free roaming to 45 days peryear.
*Norwegian telecom group TelenorASA surprised the market by reporting write-downs in its Indianoperation of 2.9 billion Norwegian kroner in the first quarter, Dagens Næringsliv reports.Telenor CEO Sigve Brekke reportedly said that it would be very expensive forTelenor to strengthen its mobile network in India, and that Telenor might leavethe country.
*Spotify has over 30 million paying subscribers worldwide, up from 20 million inJune 2015, Music Business Worldwide reports.Spotify is reportedly growing at a rate similar to Apple Music, and if thelatter keeps growing at the same rate, it will reach 20 million subscribers bythe end of the year.
*Modern Times Group MTGAB's eSports unit ESL is launching a 24-hour eSports channel, MTGsaid in a news release. The channel will be called eSports TV, andwill be made available through the Viasat platforms in the Nordic and Balticcountries. ESL is in talks regarding distribution to other territories. The newchannel will broadcast over 2,000 hours of live eSports events every year, andsome of the content will come from MTG unit Dreamhack.
*Swedish online payment services company Klarna is trying to get IT giantsApple, Google and FacebookInc. to use Klarna's payment solutions, Di Digital reports.Klarna CEO Sebastian Siemiatkowski said that the giants are very interested inhis company's solutions, even though Google and Apple both have launched theirown payment solutions, Android Pay and Apple Pay. Klarna has expanded to 18countries, including Germany and the U.S.
*Telecom Italia SpAappointed Vivendi SACEO Arnaud de Puyfontaine as its new vice chairman, Reuters reports,citing three sources close to the matter. The move follows Marco Patuano'sresignation asTelecom Italia CEO in March. One source reportedly said de Puyfontaine couldeventually replace Giuseppe Recchi as chairman of the Italian operator, a claimwhich was reportedly denied by a Vivendi spokesman. Vivendi is currentlyTelecom Italia's largest shareholder.
*Telia Co. AB'sSpanish mobile operator unit Yoigocould be forced to pay fines up to €2 million, after allegedly failing to givecustomers enough notice about its call setup fee increase in September 2015,Telecompaper reports.Spain's secretary of state for telecom and the information society SETSI isreportedly probing the operator following a complaint from consumer groupFACUA. Yoigo also reportedly neglected to inform customers that they can canceltheir subscriptions if they do not agree with the new charges.
*MegaFon's board ofdirectors appointed Sergey Soldatenkov as acting CEO, after CEO Ivan Tavrindecided to step down to pursue his own projects, Telecompaper reports.The company's shareholders are set to confirm Soldatenkov's new appointment onJune 30. Ivan Streshinsky will reportedly replace Soldatenkov as companychairman.
*Google's Romanian unit is on the hunt for a new country manager, with DanBulucea's pending departure to take on the role of Google's director of newbusiness for the Asia-Pacific starting in June, Telecompaper reports,citing Ziarul Financiar. The companyis primarily looking to hire someone in-house, according to the report. TheBucharest-based office currently has about 20 employees.
*Polish satellite operator nc+ is unlikely to be hit by financial hardships facedby its parent Canal Plus, according to company spokesperson PaulinaSmaszcz-Kurzajewska, Broadband TV News reports,citing Wirtualne Media. Canal Plus' Polish assets are profitable and it hasinvestments in local content, she reportedly added. Canal Plus recently its executivemanagement to combat four consecutive years of losses.
: That French musicstreaming platform Deezer is among the headlining keynotes at the annual TVConnect conference in London is telling of the growing ubiquity of the businessof content.
: SNL Kagan presents a roundup of recentprogramming news from various TV networks, including the renewal of'Underground' for a second season, and the opening ceremony of the RioOlympics.
: SNL Kagan presents a rundown of boardchanges in the media and communications industries.
: In this monthlyfeature, SNL Kagan provides a roundup of news related to over-the-top,video-on-demand and other online video initiatives in different EasternEuropean markets.
: Comcast isholding talks to acquire DreamWorks Animation in a deal worth more than $3billion, while the FBI arrested Emil Rensing, former chief digital officer atEPIX, on wire fraud and aggravated identity theft charges.
: Global smartphone shipments are beginningto slow down as mature markets reach peak smartphone penetration rates andemerging markets continue to deal with economic issues.
: NBCUniversal Media postedyear-over-year revenue growth of 3.9% (10.2% excluding the Super Bowl), withrevenue at the cable networks up 4.0% to $2.45 billion in the quarter.
: Based onSNL Kagan estimates, 12 major publicly traded U.S. TV station group owners(including pre-IPO Univision) could generate $7 billion in an 84 MHz clearingscenario, or up to $13 billion in a lofty 120 MHz scenario, if the auctionaligns with the FCC's vision.
: After blazing a trail of box officedominance (and bodies) this past February, Wade Wilson, the Merc with a Mouth,is poised to own the video sales charts in May 2016.
: Facebook delivered a strong beat to Street estimatesafter reporting a double-digit year-over-year growth in its top and bottomlines and monthly active users.
: Comcast reported higher profits andrevenues for the first quarter, bolstered by subscriber additions in itshigh-speed Internet and video services.
Amanda Kelly, Anne Freier, Kees Pijnappels and EsbenSvendsen contributed to this report. The Daily Dose has an editorial deadlineof 7 a.m. London time. Some external links may require a subscription.