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Eurobites: Telia's Bonnier Deal Comes Under EU Scrutiny

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: Vodacom revenue rises; EU's connected-car WiFi plan stalls; UK councils asked to prioritize mobile connectivity.

  • Telia's proposed acquisition of Bonnier Broadcasting is to be the subject of an in-depth investigation by the European Commission, with the Commission's initial examination of the deal sparking concern that Telia's competitors in TV distribution in Finland and Sweden could be shut out from accessing certain, popular Bonnier TV channels, leading to reduced choice and higher prices for consumers. If approved, the 9.2 billion Swedish kronor (US$1.03 billion) acquisition would create a vertically integrated player in the TV industry in Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Sweden. The Commission has until September 19, 2019 to make its decision. (See Eurobites: Telia Turns Up TV Offer With Bonnier Acquisition.)

  • Vodacom saw full fiscal year group revenue rise 4.3% to 90.06 billion South African rand ($6.3 billion) in 2019, while EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization) was up 2.4% to ZAR33.69 billion ($2.35 billion). The operator now has 110 million customers across its territories, up 5.8% year-on-year. On its home patch (South Africa), Vodacom managed to increase service revenue by 2.1% to ZAR55.7 billion ($3.9 billion), but it did better elsewhere, increasing service revenue by 15.6% in its "international" markets thanks in part to the ongoing success of the M-Pesa mobile payment platform. (See Eurobites: Vodacom Service Revenues Slide on Home Soil.)

  • Is 5G back in the connected-car game? Well, the 5G camp seems to have been given a glimmer of hope by the decision by the European Commission to wait for legal advice on its proposal for a rival WiFi-based standard. As Reuters reports, at an EU meeting last week 15 countries asked for the Commission's lawyers to be given more time to examine the WiFi-based proposal, meaning at least a two-month delay. Last month Deutsche Telekom teamed up with car giant BMW to warn the German government that opting to use WiFi technology in connected cars would leave Europe trailing in the wake of rival regions such as China. (See Eurobites: Deutsche Telekom, BMW Try to Steer German Govt Away From Connected-Car WiFi and Volkswagen Plan Is Latest 5G Car Wreck for German Telcos.)

  • Mobile UK, the trade association for the UK's four main mobile network operators, has issued a new report calling on local councils to play more of a central role in the rollout of 5G. According to the report, fewer than a third of councils' Local Plans -- which set out the planning strategy for particular areas -- make detailed reference to mobile connectivity, while more than half of councils did not have a councillor with specific responsibility for digital issues.

  • More than 3,000 gamers have signed up to Swisscom's "Hero League" in its first season, which culminated in a Zurich showdown between 14 of the best e-sports exponents. From this summer, Swisscom TV's gaming area will also include live content from the big streaming platforms, alongside content from TV channels.

  • A senior British police officer has called for a boycott of social media sites to pressure them into improving the way they deal with indecent imagery involving children. As the BBC reports, Chief Constable Simon Bailey dismissed financial penalties on tech giants as "an absolute drop in the ocean," and called for action that causes "reputational damage" to social media brands.

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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