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Google fined €1.49B by EU over online ads; KPN, Huawei near 5G deal


* The European Commission has imposed a €1.49 billion fine against Google LLC for anti-competitive practices on its AdSense for Search platform. The commission said the Alphabet Inc. unit abused its market dominance by placing restrictive clauses in contracts with third-party websites, which barred its rivals from placing search advertisements on them. Alphabet expects it will accrue the fine in the first quarter.

* Dutch telecom operator KPN NV appears to be on the verge of closing a 5G network construction deal with Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd., RTL Z reports, citing sources involved in preparations of the network construction. KPN's plan is reported to be politically sensitive, as the Dutch government is currently working on a policy to control Chinese corporate influence in the Netherlands.


* Red Arrow Studios unit Gravitas Ventures launched a subscription video-on-demand service called Gravitas Movies in the U.S., Digital TV Europe reports. The service will also be available globally this year. Red Arrow is a unit of ProSiebenSat.1 Media SE.

* European Union antitrust regulators are anticipated to notify Vodafone Group PLC of potential competition concerns over the London-based telco's planned acquisition of Liberty Global PLC's German and eastern European assets, Reuters reports, citing sources. The communication is expected to be relayed to Vodafone before the June 3 deadline for EU's approval of the deal.

* EU leaders are set to urge Facebook Inc., Google and other online platforms to boost their efforts in removing misleading or illegal content ahead of the European Parliament elections in May, Reuters reports, citing a draft EU statement. The bloc's heads of state, who will be at a European Council meeting on March 21-22, will highlight the risk of potential fake news and disinformation undermining the elections, and also call on EU governments to do more in safeguarding the elections.


* Dentsu Inc. unit Dentsu Aegis Network Ltd. has agreed to fully acquire Vietnam-based digital creative agency Redder Advertising Co. Ltd. for an undisclosed amount. The acquisition will help expand Dentsu's Vietnamese business while boosting the capabilities of fellow Dentsu-branded agencies including Dentsu One, according to a statement.

* Three operators of a pirate streaming group will serve a total of 17 years in jail for providing illegal streams of Premier League games in more than 1,000 pubs, clubs and homes across England and Wales, the soccer league said. The group earned more than £5 million from its illegal activities.

* Vodafone Ireland Ltd. and SIRO, the telco's joint venture with Irish utility company ESB, announced the rollout of gigabit fiber broadband services in Carlow, Kilkenny and Wexford towns. The launch is part of the companies' Gigabit Hubs initiative.

* The British Broadcasting Corp. appointed Bob Shennan to the new role of group managing director, effective in April, according to a statement. Shennan is currently the public broadcaster's director of radio and music.


* Deutsche Telekom AG appointed Rami Avidan as senior vice president for the internet of things at the German telecom operator's enterprise customer unit. Avidan joins from telco Tele2 IoT, a unit of European telecommunications company Tele2 AB, where he was CEO.

* Bjoern Goerke, SAP SE's chief technology officer and cloud platform business head, has left the German software company, Reuters reports. Programming experts Thomas Jung and Rich Heilman have also parted ways with SAP. The moves are part of SAP's plans to lay off 4,400 staff as it signals a focus on expanding its cloud business.

* Swiss web hosting provider Hostpoint AG announced a profit growth of 12% to CHF20 million in 2018. The number of Hostpoint-managed domains also grew 12% in 2018, compared to 560,000 in 2017.


* French regulator Conseil Supérieur de l'Audiovisuel may mediate in a carriage dispute between Altice France SA and Iliad SA's Free, Telecompaper reports. The planned move comes after the companies failed to reach a renewal agreement for the Altice Europe unit's four TV channels airing on Free's platform.

* The automotive alliance involving Renault SA, Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. and Mitsubishi Motors Corp. will use Microsoft Azure's Alliance Intelligent Cloud platform to build a connected infrastructure, Microsoft Corp. said in a news release. The new platform will enable the carmakers to provide connected services on board vehicles sold in almost all of the 200 markets covered by their alliance.


* Dutch public broadcaster NPO does not have to make an on-demand app for smart TVs that are over five years old, Minister of Media Arie Slob said during a parliamentary inquiry, Tweakers reports. Slob reportedly argued that forcing NPO to develop apps for all versions comes with high costs, while there is a sufficient number of alternatives for these TVs.


* NTT Docomo Inc., the mobile arm of Nippon Telegraph & Telephone Corp., announced an investment in Finnish cloud gaming startup Hatch Entertainment Oy. The investment was made through NTT Docomo's venture capital arm NTT Docomo Ventures Inc.

* Schibsted Sverige AB has decided to open up its sites to automated ads from Google beginning in end-March, after refusing in 2018 to accept the latter's advertising policy linked to the EU General Data Protection Regulation, Breakit reports, citing sources. The refusal has reportedly become too costly, with ad revenue losses worth millions of Swedish kronor.

* Norwegian telecom regulator Nkom said it is planning the auction of frequencies in the 700 MHz band and the 2.1 GHz band for commercial mobile services. The auction will start in the first week of June. Final auction rules have yet to be determined.

* TDC A/S selected Ericsson over Huawei as its partner on the rollout of 5G in Denmark after consultations with the Danish Defence Intelligence Services, Finans reports. However, the intelligence services said they did not in any way requested TDC to drop a cooperation with Huawei despite cybersecurity concerns.

* Norwegian browser developer Opera Ltd. said it has released a new version of its mobile browser for Android, with a built-in virtual private network service. The addition gives users enhanced control of online privacy and improves security.


* Spanish broadcaster Mediapro has formed a new production company named The Mediapro Studio, which will be in charge of content production at 11 of Mediapro's offices globally, Variety reports. The new entity, which will be based in Madrid, is now taking over the 34 scripted series in production at Mediapro.

* Companies operating in Italy that are involved in 5G technologies procurement may be required to inform the Italian government of their purchases from non-European equipment providers under new rules, Reuters reports. The move is part of the government's intent to extend its special powers on the country's 5G-related strategies, the report said, citing the League Party.

* Telefónica SA's Movistar+ and Mediapro's Globomedia SA have started the production of science fiction drama series "Paraiso," according to a news release. The new series will have eight episodes and is anticipated to air on Movistar+ in 2020.

* Enel SpA's broadband unit Enel Open Fiber SpA Open Fiber has surpassed 5 million fiber-to-the-home subscribers in Italy, Telecompaper reports, citing CEO Elisabetta Ripa's interview with Quotidiano Nazionale.


* Fotelka TV, a new direct-to-home platform, is launching soon in the Czech Republic and Slovakia, Broadband TV News reports, citing Parabola. The service intends to offer both linear and non-linear services.

* Ukrainian cable operator Volia has begun offering on-demand service FOX NOW through its over-the-top service, Broadband TV News reports. The new content, which includes the Fox and Fox Life channels, have been made available through Volia's distribution agreement with 21st Century Fox Inc. unit Fox Networks Group Inc.

* Russian operator Mobile TeleSystems PJSC has introduced its narrowband IoT network in the city of Khabarovsk, Telecompaper reports, citing

* Polish telecom and data center services provider ATM SA appointed Daniel Szczesniewski as its new CEO, replacing Slawomir Koszolko, Telecompaper reports.


Spotify files antitrust complaint against Apple; MTG agrees to sell NOVA stake: Spotify Technology filed an anti-competition complaint against Apple with the European Commission. Swedish entertainment company Modern Times Group agreed to sell its 95% stake in Bulgaria-based NOVA Broadcasting Group AD to Advance Media Group.

Netflix tests higher pricing in Italy; Rakuten TV to expand across Europe: Streaming giant Netflix is testing a higher price for its premium subscription tier in Italy, while e-commerce company Rakuten is planning to offer its movie streaming service Rakuten TV in 42 European countries.


Technology: Update: OTT vendors in use: Kagan has updated its over-the-top vendor-in-use product. Presented in this update are more than 700 OTT service providers operating in 50+ countries and more than 150 vendors.

Anne Freier, Amanda Kelly, Koen Pijnappels and Esben Svendsen contributed to this report.

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