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Google buying GIF platform; Facebook unveils new privacy features

Top News

* Alphabet Inc. unit Google Inc. is buying GIF platform Tenor for an undisclosed sum, Tenor CEO David McIntosh said in an official blog post. Tenor will continue to operate as a separate brand under the U.S. search giant.

* Facebook Inc. unveiled a host of measures for its social network that aim to improve privacy controls for users. The updates include a redesigned settings menu on mobile devices and a new privacy shortcuts menu that allows users to review and delete the data they have shared, along with features that enable them to download their data and move it to another service.

* The Quebec provincial government will impose local sales taxes on foreign suppliers of paid digital services like Netflix Inc. and Inc.'s Amazon Prime, starting in 2019, The Hollywood Reporter reports. The tax collection is expected to help Quebec pull in $27.5 million in new tax revenue in 2019 and $35 million in 2020.

Internet & OTT

* Amazon is in talks to obtain rights to science fiction novel "The Three-Body Problem" and subsequent two books by Liu Cixin for $1 billion, London's Financial Times reports, citing investors. The potential deal would allow the company to produce a three-season TV show based on the Chinese sci-fi trilogy.

* Facebook founder, Chairman and CEO Mark Zuckerberg will testify in the coming weeks on data privacy and address recent concerns regarding how the social media platform's user data is handled, unnamed sources told Zuckerberg's representatives earlier said he will not testify before British lawmakers for a similar inquiry into the alleged misuse of Facebook's user data by London-based political data analytics firm Cambridge Analytica LLC and other third parties.

* Playboy Enterprises Inc. has distanced itself from Facebook's social networking platform over concerns regarding the handling of users' data, the company's chief creative officer, Cooper Hefner, said in a tweet. Hefner further claimed that more than 25 million people on Facebook are Playboy fans.

* Turner Broadcasting System Inc.'s Turner Sports is poised to jump into the streaming sports fray, tipping its new over-the-top service next week under the heading of its Bleacher Report digital brand. Bleacher Report Live, or B/R Live, is slated to bow April 7 with coverage of former college star quarterback and NFL bust Johnny Manziel in The Spring League, a pro football scouting and event showcase.


* Facebook delayed the unveiling of its new home products because of the recent data scandal, Bloomberg News reports, citing sources with knowledge of the matter. The company had previously planned to unveil hardware products such as connected speakers with digital-assistant and video-chat capabilities at its F8 conference in May.

* Uber Technologies Inc. will not reapply for a self-driving permit in California, reports, citing a statement by an Uber representative. The company spokesperson said the company has suspended self-driving operations anyway following the accident that resulted in a death of a woman in Tempe, Ariz.

* About five dozen iPhone owners filed nearly 59 separate lawsuits against Apple Inc. over claims that the tech giant slowed down their handsets to save battery life, The Wall Street Journal reports, citing court records. At a legal meeting on March 29, the plaintiffs will seek to combine their suits into a single class-action.

TV Networks

* Comcast Corp.'s NBC (US) sacked affiliate-marketing chief Scot Chastain after an internal investigation into alleged misconduct by Chastain, Variety reports, citing a company representative. Details of Chastain's alleged misconduct remain undisclosed.

The day ahead

Early morning futures indicators pointed to a mixed opening for the U.S. market.

In Asia, the Hang Seng was down 2.34% to 30,070.29, and the Nikkei 225 was down 1.34% to 21,031.31.

In Europe, as of midday, the FTSE 100 was down 0.17% to 6,987.95, and the Euronext 100 had fallen 0.68% to 995.15.

On the macro front

The Bank Reserve Settlement report, the MBA mortgage applications report, the GDP report, the international trade in goods report, the pending home sales index, the EIA petroleum status report and the Farm prices report are due out today.

Featured news

The Daily Dose Europe: Amazon Channels may soon launch in France; MTG appoints CEO for Sweden: Amazon is considering launching Amazon Channels in France, while Modern Times Group has appointed Filippa Wallestam as CEO of its Swedish unit.

The Daily Dose Asia-Pacific: Foxconn to buy Belkin for US$866M; India rejects Google's Street View service: Foxconn unit Foxconn Interconnect Technology Ltd. agreed to acquire Belkin International Inc. for about US$866 million in cash, while the Indian government turned down Google's proposal to launch its Street View service in the country.

HBO GO debuts in Poland; RTL Group to launch VOD in Croatia, Hungary: HBO (US) rolled out its stand-alone subscription service HBO GO in Poland, while RTL Group unveiled plans to launch video-on-demand services in Belgium, Croatia and Hungary.

M&A Replay: European deals: Telenor to divest CEE assets; Vivendi sells Ubisoft stake: Norwegian operator Telenor ASA agreed to sell its assets in central and eastern Europe to investment firm PPF Group NV, while French media conglomerate Vivendi SA has divested its 27.27% stake in gaming developer Ubisoft Entertainment SA.

Featured research

Broadcast Investor: TV station retrans revenue growth slows down to 18% in Q4'17: TV station gross retrans revenue for the 13 broadcasters in Kagan's analysis grew 18.4% to $1.93 billion in fourth quarter 2017. However, the quarter-over-quarter growth slowed down sequentially throughout the year.

Broadcast Investor: US broadcast station revenues up 1.2% in Q4'17; cash flow margins down: Acquisitions, coupled with retrans and online/digital growth, largely drove U.S. broadcasters' results, while softness in auto and the lack of political ad spending put downward pressure on margins.

Technology: GDC 2018 highlights the promise of enterprise VR: This year's Game Developers Conference, held March 19-23 in San Francisco, saw virtual reality developers and hardware manufacturers shifting their focus to enterprise markets.

Economics of Networks: Entertainment Studios adds The Weather Channel to its stable of cable networks: The Weather Channel (US) is being sold to Byron Allen's Entertainment Studios Inc. for $300 million.

Multichannel Trends: Q4'17 cable financials confirm growth slowdown: Cable revenue gains ended 2017 with a whimper, slowing to an annual 3.3% in the fourth quarter.

The Daily Dose is updated as of 7 a.m. ET. S&P Global Market Intelligence provides links to external sites where these offer further, relevant information to our readers. While we ensure that such links are functional at the time of publication, we are not responsible in instances where those links are unavailable later.