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Amazon, UK broadcasters in content talks; EC may force Google, others to disclose tax affairs

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Amazon, UK broadcasters in content talks; EC may force Google, others to disclose tax affairs

TOP NEWS

*Amazon is negotiating with British broadcasters to add their channel brands andprograms to its streaming service, TheDaily Telegraph reports,citing industry sources. The discussions are reportedly in an early stage, butit is believed that ViacomInc., UKTV, WaltDisney Co. and Discovery Communications Inc. could offer their pay TVchannels as an optional extra for Amazon Prime Instant Video subscribers.

*The European Commission is planning to force Alphabet Inc.-owned Google Inc., Amazon.com Inc., Facebook Inc. and other tech companies to open up theirtax affairs across Europe, TheIndependent reports.Under draft legislation, businesses earning more than £600 million a year willbe required to disclose their profits and accounts in every EU country. Thelegislation has been proposed in the wake of the recent Panama Papers scandal.

PAN-EUROPEAN

*European data protection regulators could request a review of the EU-U.S.Privacy Shield, a new framework for transatlantic data flows in two years,Reuters reports,citing three people familiar with the matter. The watchdogs reportedly raisedconcerns about the amount of data that U.S. government agents can collect andaccess, as well the extent of independence of a new U.S."ombudsperson" that will handle EU privacy complaints. The regulatorsalso doubt whether Europeans' data transferred to the U.S. will not be subjectto indiscriminate mass surveillance.

UK AND IRELAND

*The U.K. Supreme Court is set to hear a case on a tax avoidance scheme calledEclipse Film Partners 35, which used the rights to Disney films to helpgenerate tax breaks, The Daily Telegraph(London) reports.Eclipse 35 is reportedly challenging HM Revenue and Customs' decision in 2012to deny £117 million of tax relief to Eclipse members. A tax tribunal ruledthat the partnership was an "aggressive avoidance scheme," a decisionsupported by the Court of Appeal in 2015.

* Asexpected, will air the 's revamped motoring format"Top Gear" worldwide, TheGuardian reports.The show's online broadcast falls under Netflix's existing deal with the BBC.The move will put the Chris Evans-helmed program head-to-head with JeremyClarkson's new motoring show on Amazon.

*Legacy subscribers of Netflix's HD plan in Ireland would have to pay €2 moremonthly from the end of April, the IrishIndependent (Dublin) reports.Instead of the current €7.99, HD plan customers will need to pay €9.99 if theywish to continue their subscription. Affected users can choose to continuepaying €7.99 per month for a standard definition plan.

*The BBC and BritishTelecom's BT Sport struck a deal with the Football Association toextend their shared coverage of the FA Cup for three more years until 2021, accordingto a news release. The new agreement also entails broadcast rights to otherFA-sanctioned competitions, including the Women's FA Cup, the FA Women's SuperLeague and the England Women's friendly matches.

*The BBC introducedthe BBC iPlayer Kids app, which will allow young audiences to watch BBCchildren's shows on tablets and mobile devices. The app offers access to morethan 10,000 episodes of kids' programs shown on CBBC (UK) and CBeebies (UK).

GERMANY, SWITZERLAND ANDAUSTRIA

*Deutsche Telekom AGis preparing an offer for Germany's leading sports-betting company Tipico,Reuters reports.The German telco joined with financial investor Centerbridge for a planned bid,according to the report, citing two people familiar with the matter. As part ofthe planned offer, Deutsche Telekom will take a minority stake, withCenterbridge taking the majority part. Private equity company CVC, Chineseinvestor XIO Group and as Czech lottery company Sazka are also said to beinterested in Tipico, which was put up for sale by its founders in 2015.

*Vodafone Germany's head of private customers Marcello Maggioni will leaveeffective June 30 to pursue interests outside the company, Telecom Handel reports.Maggioni has headed the private customer business since February 2014. ManuelCubero, Vodafone Germany's chief commercial officer, will take over Maggioni'sresponsibilities from July 1. Cubero has held various management positions atVodafone Kabel DeutschlandGmbH since 2003 and is CEO of Kabel Deutschland Holding AG sinceApril 2014.

*German trade union Verdi is planning to increase pressure on Deutsche Telekomas a new round of pay discussions gets underway, Focus reports.Around 3,000 workers from all business areas were expected to strike yesterdayin Dortmund. Verdi is demanding 5% higher salaries as well as a clause inworker contracts that would prevent forced redundancies, while Deutsche Telekomhas offered to increase salaries by 2.8% in two phases and over two years.

*German publisher Gruner + Jahr AG& Co. KG said it managed to soften the effect of ad blockers bybanning those who use the software from some its websites, DWDL reports.The subsidiary of media group Bertelsmann said the ad block rate for Geo.desank 43% after shutting off ad blocker users from the website. Gruner + Jahralso tried to communicate to users that content cannot be offered withoutadvertisements, as well as employing software to counter ad blockers.

FRANCE

*Vivendi SA has agreedto buy a 15% stake in French entertainment and electronics retail company Fnac,accordingto a company statement. The acquisition will take place via a €159 millionreserved capital increase, valuing Fnac at €54 per share. Fnac is seeking toexpand in southern Europe and Africa, where Vivendi has operations. Vivendisays the agreement could lead to partnerships in live events, ticketing anddistribution. Le Monde reportsthat 5.6 million people have an Fnac card, with 3.6 million in France. Twodirectors representing Vivendi will be appointed to the Fnac board. Theagreement comes after Vivendi recently struck a deal to buy a 3.5% stake in Italian mediacompany MediasetGroup.

*French TV news channel BFM TV acquired a 39% stake in private French TVchannel, Numéro 23, reportsLes Echos. The agreement includes aprovision that between 2017 and 2020, Numéro 23 owner Pascal Houzelot couldcede control to NextRadioTV, the group that owns BFM TV. In an interviewwith Le Monde, Houzelot said that inorder to have access to premium content, there needs to be strong partnershipsin place. As the national French TV channel, TF1, is not renewing its contractwith Numéro 23, the company is looking to build relationships elsewhere.

* Anew media company launched on the Paris stock exchange aims to become one ofEurope's biggest media and content groups, the Financial Times reports.Mediawan, not "Media One" as initially thought,seeks to raise €300 million before it is listed on April 22. It will focus onacquiring European companies that produce radio, cinema, theatres, television,digital content as well as distribution platforms, but not print newspapers.The founders – Xavier Niel of French telecom group , Matthieu Pigasse, abanker and co-owner of Le Mondenewspaper and Pierre-Antoine Capton, who heads Troisième Oeil Productions – willeach own 20% of the company. Funds are being raised by a special purposeacquisition company, which only allows investment in European media content.

*Bolloré Group's headquarters in Puteaux near Paris were raided as part of aninvestigation into Bolloré Africa Logistics' activities, accordingto Le Monde. French fraud andcorruption officers are investigating whether the French media company used itscommunications subsidiary, Havas, to facilitate the acquisition of themanagement of ports in Conakry, Guinea and Lomé, Togo. Havas managed thepresidential campaign of Alpha Condé in 2010. The Bolloré Group denies anyconnection, according to the report.

NETHERLANDS, BELGIUM ANDLUXEMBOURG

*KPN NV's OTT service KPN Play has started to offer several channels in HDquality, writesTotaalTV. A total of 15 channels can now be watched in HD, including publicchannels NPO 1, 2 and 3, and commercial networks SBS6, Net5, Discovery Channel,Veronica, and Comedy Central.

*Vodafone Netherlands appointed Patrick van der Spek as its new enterprisedirector, accordingto Telecompaper. Van der Spek replaces Alexander Saul, who will take on thesame position in Germany. Prior to the appointment, Van der Spek was the headof unified communications at Vodafone Netherlands.

*The three children of former Belgacom, now known as Proximus, CEO Didier Bellens are proceeding with thelawsuit against their father's former employer, Het Nieuwsblad reports. Bellenswas dealing with a continuing procedure for unfair dismissal against the stateand Proximus when he died in February. The Belgian businessman demanded a €2.8million compensation for breach of contract.

*T-Mobile Netherlands will perform an experiment with temporary Internet bundlesthat will allow a practically unlimited 4G usage, Nu.nl reports.A small number of customers are invited to test the "temporary unlimitedInternet." One of the bundles offers a free weekend beam that will allowcustomers to consume up to 50 GB during this period. It is not clear how manycustomers the provider invited to experiment, and whether the provider isalready planning to make the collections available to everyone.

*Ziggo NV and disabledsports foundation Fonds Gehandicaptensport signed a four-year sponsorshipagreement, accordingto a news release. Ziggo will contribute an annual fee to the fund and willprovide coverage of several disabled sports events through its TV channel ZiggoSport. In addition, the agreement will provide 200 disabled athletes with theopportunity to attend home games of football club Ajax.

NORDIC COUNTRIES

*Spotify Ltd. isprepared to consider moving its headquarters out of Sweden if the Swedishgovernment fails to introduce effective measures to support digital andtechnology sector firms, reportsDi Digital. The Stockholm-headquartered music streaming firm's co-founders,Daniel Ek and Martin Lorentzon, delivered the warning by way of an open letter.

*Kinnevik AB will earn $57 million from the sale of its 3.8% shareholding ine-commerce platform operator Lazada Group to China's , reports Affärsvärlden. The share divestment isconnected to a larger deal in which Alibaba is committed to $500 million in Lazada. Theshare purchase from Kinnevik gives Alibaba a controlling equity stake inLazada. Based on the per share price paid by Alibaba to  Kinnevik, the transaction values all shares inLazada at $1.5 billion.

*TeliaSonera AB'scorporate name change to Telia Co. AB has not resolved the critical issue ofwhat the company will do with its operations in Uzbekistan, writesGöteborgs Posten. The name change wasadopted at the Swedish telco's annual general meeting in Stockholm on April 12.The renaming event reflects the rapid process of change taking place within thecompany. It is the most significant corporate rebranding initiative since TeliaAB merged with Finnish telco Sonera Oy. Telia Co. aims to refocus itsactivities on the Nordic and Baltic markets.

*The Finnish government's new plan to apply for EU financial aid is linked toNokia Corp.'sdecision to eliminatea further 1,300 jobs in Finland, reportsstate broadcaster YLE. The Ministry of Employment and the Economy has beentasked with presenting the application for financial aid. Much of the aid isexpected to come from the EU's European Globalization Fund. Nokia plans todownsize its networks' operations in the Finnish cities of Espoo, Tampere andOulu. The company promised shareholders that it will reduce base-operatingcosts by €900 million in connection with its acquisition of Alcatel-Lucent.

*Bonnier AB-ownedSwedish fashion magazine Styleby plans to launch an English-language website in2016, Bonnier said in a statement.The digital launch will be handled by the Bonnier publishing subsidiary,Bonnier Tidskrifter AB. The new website will, under the current plan, belaunched on May 19. The internationalized Styleby.nu website will offer fashioncontent to readers who can also access the print edition.

SOUTHERN EUROPE

*Zegona Communicationsplc-owned Spanish regional operator snagged adeal with Mediapro to distribute beIN SPORTS La Liga channel in Spain, DigitalTV Europe reports.The news followssimilar soccer rights deals secured by the Spanish units of and . Meanwhile, is unlikely to strike a dealwith Mediapro for access to La Liga matches, with company CEO Alberto GarciaErauzkin criticizing the expensive price of soccer rights, according to aninterview with La Voz de Galiciacited in the report.

*Italian state broadcaster RAI partnered with Eutelsat Communications SA to broadcast seven soccermatches of the Euro 2016 championship in Ultra HD, Eutelsat said in a statement.The Ultra HD coverage will kick off on June 30 during the first match of thequarter-finals, and conclude on July 10, during the finals match. Under thepartnership, 11 RAI channels will also be upgraded to HD in the Tivùsatplatform.

*Telefónica SA'sbusiness-to-business unit Telefónica Business Solutions teamed up withwholesale carrier services provider BICS for global LTE network improvement,Telecompaper reports.Under terms of the multiservice IPX deal, BICS will help Telefónica expand itsLTE footprint by an additional 10%. Telefónica also struck a similarpartnership with TeliaSonera, according to the report.

EASTERN EUROPE

*Hungarian media and communications watchdog NMHH slapped a fine of 40 millionHungarian forints on operator Invitel, Broadband TV News reports.The penalty is due to the modification of subscriber contracts from Oct. 1,2015, according to the report. Invitel received similar sanctions in the past,including an 80 million forints fine in summer 2015.

*Rostelecom PJSC addedthe catalog of Russian online cinema Okko to its Sputnik/Cinema streamingplatform, Telecompaper reports.Under the deal, Sputnik/Cinema customers will be able to watch over 5,000 titlesfrom Okko in Full HD, HD and 3D formats. Sputnik/Cinema also features Russianonline film streaming services Megogo, Tvigle, Tvzavr, IVI.ru and Zabava,according to the report.

*Liberty Global plc'sUPC Poland istrialing a new version of its UPC on Demand service. The latest version has newpersonalized functions and interface, accordingto Telecompaper. UPC on Demand can be accessed on Horizon decoders, offeringfilms shortly after their theatrical run, at half the price of cinema admission.

FEATURED NEWS

:Executives at Simulmedia's PeopleFront 2016 discussed how behavioralinformation and C7 measurement are expected to be integral parts of thenegotiations for the 2016-17 upfront market.

: Alibaba agreed to acquire a controlling stake in LazadaGroup's Southeast Asian e-commerce platform, while Sumner Redstone, chairmanemeritus of Viacom, is against the sale of Viacom's holdings in ParamountPictures.

FEATURED RESEARCH

: Leading global ad agency holdingcompanies saw strong results across most regions in 2015, with growing demandfor digital advertising one key driver behind gains.

: SNL Kagan has published updatedGlobal Multichannel analysis for Greece and Croatia, and Global Multichannel& Broadband analysis for Trinidad & Tobago.

: Footprint expansion and subscriber growthpropelled U.S. cable operators' capital expenditure 6.1% year over year to$4.01 billion in the fourth quarter of 2015.

Amanda Kelly, Patrick Winters, Charlotte van Hek andGerard O'Dwyer contributed to this report. The Daily Dose has an editorialdeadline of 7 a.m. London time. Some external links may require a subscription.