Netflix’s Petition for Peace

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Jake Sorensen

NetflixNetflix has decided to petition against the TWC-Comcast merger, which they claim to be a “serious” threat to public interests. 

In a 256 page document, Netflix proposed that the merger was not only ineffective, but also inherently harmful to the public. In the merger, they claim that both Comcast and TWC are trying to turn the internet into something that “resembles cable TV”.

Cable companies, (such as Verizon, Comcast, and DIRECTV) have been trying to limit Netflix’s streaming for years. The 2005 Proposal by the FCC set up some ground rules, granting basic rights like access to any lawful content and encouraging competition among network, service, and content providers. Five years later, the FCC passed the Open Internet Order, which prevented cable companies from unlawfully limiting their user’s internet access. Fast forward to 2014, and cable companies have started to gain ground in the Net Neutrality controversy.

Netflix isn’t the only company that’s acting against Comcast. Both Dish Network and the Los Angeles County government believe the merger will stunt the growth of new internet-based streaming companies.

Dish Network, which is now entering the internet streaming market, considers the combination to have far too much market power. The LA County government has joined the City of Portland, Ore., Montgomery County, Md., and Washington Counties, Minn., in opposition of the merger. In their filing, it’s noted that “the companies make virtually no specific or enforceable commitments about how or when consumers will benefit from the transaction”.

This issue has not gone unnoticed by the White House. Last month, President Obama gave his own views on the subject, which the NY Times summed up in an article using the phrase “No Internet Fast Lanes”. Though not directly related to the recent net-neutrality antics, President Obama is quoted saying that “Closed societies that are not open to new ideas, eventually they fall behind” in regards to internet censorship in other countries. In 2007, Obama was also opposed to telecommunications companies (such as Comcast or Verizon) trying to charge customers for “different rates to different sites”.

There are already members of the faculty that will be affected by Netflix’s possible disappearance.

Mr. Zagursky, a teacher of Church History for sophomores, uses Netflix for his classes. He would not only show religious movies, like the Passion of the Christ, but he would also show films like Gladiator, in context of the Romans. Though he feels he could teach well without Netflix in his classes, he knows that there are many teachers, some without cable, that use Netflix on a regular basis

Various websites, such as Reddit, Urban Dictionary, and Etsy took a part in “Internet Slowdown Day” on Sept. 10th, where they forced their users into internet slow lanes that could appear if net-neutrality is lost.

By September 23, Comcast will have responded to the public comments regarding their recent actions. Their chance to defend themselves is coming soon, even if their supporters aren’t as numerous as Netflix’s. Many Malvernians are avid users of Netflix, so they’ll be affected by anything that happens to it.