Netflix, clearly unhappy with the proposed Comcast/Time Warner Cable merger from the outset, has finally made their concerns official with a petition to the Federal Communications Commission. In a just-filed Petition to Deny, Netflix argues that the entity formed by the merger would "have the incentive and ability – through access fees charged at interconnection points and by other means – to harm internet companies."
"The proposed merger puts at risk the end-to-end principle that has characterized the internet and been a key driver in the creation of the most important communications platform in history. Unsurprisingly, given their dominance in the cable television marketplace, the proposed merger would give Applicants the ability to turn a consumer's internet experience into something that more closely resembles cable television. It would set up and ecosystem that calls into questions what we to date have taken for granted: that a consumer who pays for connectivity to the internet will be able to get the content she requests," says Netflix in the petition.
"The transaction would give Applicant control of a dominant share of the nations's residential high-speed broadband customers at a time when those customers increasingly engage with more content-rich applications that require high-speed broadband to work properly, such as Internet-delivered video."
If the Comcast/Time Warner Cable deal is approved, the resulting entity would control over 60 percent of the country's broadband households.
We've seen Netflix make the net neutrality argument against this merger before. Upon release of their last quarterly earnings report, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings said,
"Comcast is already dominant enough to be able to capture unprecedented fees from transit providers and services such as Netflix. The combined company would possess even more anti-competitive leverage to charge arbitrary interconnection tolls for access to their customers. For this reason, Netflix opposes this merger."
Now, that opposition is on governmental record.
At the time, Comcast was quick to refute Hastings' claims.
“There has been no company that has had a stronger commitment to openness of the Internet than Comcast and we are the only ISP in the country that is currently legally bound by the FCC’s vacated Net Neutrality rules,” said SVP, Corporate and Digital Communications Jennifer Khoury. “In fact, one of the many benefits of our proposed transaction with Time Warner Cable will be the extension of Net Neutrality protections to millions of additional Americans.”
Of course, all of this is taking place months after Netflix made a deal with Comcast to ensure high-quality streaming. There is a debate on whether those sort of deals, which Netflix is afraid are only going to increase with a Comcast/TWC merger, are even about net neutrality or simply business as usual – but it's clear that Netflix wants to frame the potential merger as a strike to net neutrality.
Image via Netflix