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Viacom inks deals with Amazon, Vodafone; Eleven Sports may exit UK, Ireland

TOP NEWS

* Viacom Inc.'s Viacom International Media Networks struck deals with several multiplatform providers across Europe, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Amazon.com Inc.'s Prime Video service in Germany and Austria will add the MTV+ channel to its offering, while Vodafone Group PLC unit Vodafone Turkey agreed to provide Turkish-versioned content from Nickelodeon on its Vodafone TV mobile app.

* Eleven Sports may terminate its service in the U.K. and Ireland after about four months due to a lack of subscribers, London's The Guardian reports. Eleven Sports Network Ltd.'s sports-focused streaming platform plans to seek renegotiation of rights deals to avoid pulling out its service.

UK AND IRELAND

* Accenture PLC said it will acquire Adaptly Inc., a U.S.-based digital media services firm, for an undisclosed amount to bolster its interactive programming services. Adaptly will join Accenture Interactive Operations after the deal is completed.

* All3Media Ltd. has acquired producer Aurora Media Worldwide UK Ltd. for an undisclosed amount, TBI Vision reports. The transaction is anticipated to help expand All3Media's portfolio to 29 production and distribution companies across Europe, Asia-Pacific and the U.S. All3Media is jointly owned by Discovery Inc. and Liberty Global PLC.

* British regulator Ofcom plans to implement regulations on wholesale telecom networks that varies based on geographic area, beginning 2021, Advanced Television reports. The new plan is intended to run for at least five years.

* Ad-supported streaming platform Pluto TV will offer a free broadcast of pop-up channels Pluto TV Xmas, Pluto TV Holiday Lights and Pluto TV Fireplace, during the holiday season in the U.K., Digital TV Europe reports.

GERMANY, SWITZERLAND AND AUSTRIA

* Apple Inc.'s mobile payments service Apple Pay is now available in Germany, four years after its U.S. launch. Customers of banks such as Deutsche Bank AG, Commerzbank AG unit comdirect bank AG, Hypovereinsbank, Wirecard AG and Hanseatic Bank GmbH & Co KG and credit card providers Mastercard Inc., Visa Inc. and American Express Co. can now access Apple Pay.

* Axel Springer SE is evaluating a restructure, according to CEO Mathias Döpfner, reports Handelsblatt.

* Mediengruppe RTL Deutschland GmbH has launched its premium online streaming service TV NOW. Exclusive and live programmes can be viewed for €4.99 per month.

FRANCE

* Orange SA has unveiled smart speaker Djingo, which includes Amazon.com Inc.'s Alexa virtual assistant, at the sixth edition of the annual Show Hello. The device, developed with Deutsche Telekom AG, will be available in spring 2019.

* Bouygues Telecom SA signed a contract with Axione - SAS, a subsidiary of Bouygues Construction SA, and financial partner Mirova to roll out and operate fiber-to-the-home in the very dense areas, comprising 3.4 million additional premises. The deal allows Bouygues Telecom to complete FTTH coverage of high-density urban areas by the end of 2021.

* Google France SARL Managing Director Sébastien Missoffe said the company agreed to pay a tax on turnover, La Tribune reports. Missoffe did not specify the amount because details on how tax will be calculated have not yet been provided. Google France is a unit of Alphabet Inc.'s Google LLC.

NETHERLANDS, BELGIUM AND LUXEMBOURG

* VodafoneZiggo has started phasing out its analogue TV signal in Amsterdam, meaning that large parts of the city can only receive digital television, reports TotaalTV. The provider started in April with the phasing out of analogue TV and wants the whole of the Netherlands done by 2021.

* Paul van Gessel is leaving his position as director of Amsterdam channel AT5 and media company NH Media, as of Jan. 1, 2019, reports Het Parool. Van Gessel helmed the two news organizations, which have been working together since 2013, for six years. According to Van Gessel, the companies are entering a new phase and it is therefore a "natural" moment to leave.

* Belgian commercial channel VTM, which is owned by MEDIALAAN NV, will add channels VTM Kids and VTM Kids Jr to its offering, reports Het Laatste Nieuws. The channels VTMKZOOM and Kadet will be removed from VTM's portfolio.

NORDIC COUNTRIES

* SoftBank Group Corp. is dropping equipment made by Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd., and replacing it with hardware from Ericsson and Nokia Corp., the Nikkei Asian Review reports. The Japanese company's decision follows rising security concerns over potential risks associated with using the Chinese company's equipment.

* Finland media group Sanoma Oyj is acquiring Iddink Groep BV, a provider of educational platforms and services, for €277 million. The acquisition is expected to strengthen Sanoma's growth strategy through its unit Sanoma Learning BV, while enabling Sanoma and Iddink to jointly develop digital solutions for clients in the education sector.

* Amazon Web Services Inc. has opened three new data centers in the greater Stockholm area, which are intended to bolster AWS' cloud capacity in the Nordic region, Business Sweden reports. The data centers are in Västerås, Eskilstuna and Katrineholm.

* Elisa Oyj has obtained a €100 million loan from the Helsinki-based Nordic Investment Bank. The Finnish telco plans to use the credit line to accelerate capital investments in 5G related infrastructure both in Finland and Estonia.

SOUTHERN EUROPE

* Telecom Italia SpA and Qualcomm Inc. unit Qualcomm Technologies Inc. have conducted what is touted as the first video call in Europe that used the 5G New Radio interface via the millimeter-wave frequency band. A test device powered by components from Qualcomm and Ericsson made the call via the Italian operator's mobile network.

* MásMóvil Ibercom SA is planning to acquire Bymovil, which exclusively owns the franchise network of the former's Yoigo brand in Spain, Telecompaper reports, citing a statement to telecom watchdog Comisión Nacional de los Mercados y la Competencia. The acquisition is aimed at streamlining MásMóvil's physical distribution network by selling all products from its brands under one roof.

* Spanish telecom giant Telefónica SA has agreed to support an initial trial of the new connected car project organized by car rental company Europcar Mobility Group SA and fleet tracking provider Geotab Inc., Telecompaper reports. Under the trial, 1,000 cars in the city of Palma de Mallorca will be connected to Telefónica's network.

* Telefónica's board of directors has approved several management changes that will take effect Jan. 1, 2019. Telefónica Brasil Chairman and CEO Eduardo Navarro will become global director of the company's new comms, brand, public affairs and sustainability unit. Vivo COO Christian Gebara will replace Navarro. José Luis Gómez-Navarro, currently director of corporate communications and institutional marketing, will now report directly to Telefónica Chairman and CEO José María Álvarez-Pallete.

EASTERN EUROPE

* Fintur Holdings BV, which is owned 41.45% by Turkcell Iletisim Hizmetleri AS, signed a binding agreement to transfer its 51% total shareholding in Kazakhstan-based Kcell JSC to fixed-line operator Kazakhtelecom. Turkcell said the deal is foreseen over an enterprise value of US$771 million for 100% of shares. Following this, the Turkish telco signed a binding agreement to transfer its shares in Fintur to TeliaSonera Asia Holding BV-owned Sonera Holding BV. Telia already owns 58.55% of Fintur. The value of this transaction is anticipated to be about €350 million.

* Naspers Ltd.'s subscription video-on-demand service ShowMax is bowing out of the Polish market in January, barely two years since its launch in the country, Broadband TV News reports, citing Wirtualne Media. Despite the change, Naspers' other investments in Poland will not be affected, according to the report.

* Russian satellite TV provider Orion is making hybrid broadcast broadband television services available to its partner broadcasters, Broadband TV News reports, citing AKTR. Only Channel One and sports-based channel Match TV have so far used HbbTV services, although to a limited extent.

* Mail.ru Group Ltd.-owned social network VKontakte Ltd. is testing its own messenger service that will be accessible to all users via iOS and Android devices, Telecompaper reports, citing Tdaily.ru.

* Polish operator Polkomtel Sp zoo, which operates as Plus, has rolled out a fixed internet service via the network of Cyfrowy Polsat SA-owned NETIA SA, Telecompaper reports. The new service offers internet speeds of up to 900 Mbps.

FEATURED NEWS

Part 1: Analysts weigh Charter's next move in 2019 as M&A integration winds down: Charter is finally turning the corner on its integration process. Company executives have promised positive changes in 2019, but analysts highlight how shifting consumer habits can complicate matters.

Part 2: Previous wave of pay TV M&A sets stage for operators' 2019 initiatives: Following a previous wave of M&A, U.S. pay TV operators will wrap up the integration process in 2019 as they transform themselves to compete in a changing video market. Questions remain, though, about where the industry goes from here.

FEATURED RESEARCH

Global Multichannel: Challengers to Swiss duopoly to drive new market dynamics: A reinvigorated competitive landscape in Switzerland, via multiplay ISPs Sunrise and Salt, is driving exponential leaps in broadband speeds and increasingly competitive pricing that is challenging the established players.

Anne Freier, Sylvia Edwards Davis, Charlotte van Hek and Gerard O'Dwyer contributed to this report.

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