Watchdogs wary of Netflix-Comcast deal
February 25, 2014
US media watchdogs have “grave concerns” over Netflix’s deal with Comcast for improved Internet service.
Netflix has made a deal with Comcast for direct access to the cable company’s broadband network, in order to ensure smooth delivery of its content. Craig Aaron, president of Internet rights lobby group Free Press, said he had grave concerns about the deal.
“As a customer you are in the dark here,” he said. “Was Comcast degrading Netflix’s service to people as a negotiating tactic? To people, I’d add, who were paying month after month for Netflix’s service.”
John Bergmayer, of consumer rights group Public Knowledge, said: “From what information is public, it appears that the largest ISPs are demanding payment from networks that deliver content and services that residential broadband consumers demand.”
“One way to prevent competitive problems from arising, and to reduce the need for future regulation, is to prevent ISPs from holding other networks hostage. This raises concerns in light of the proposed Comcast-Time Warner Cable merger,” he added.
Public Knowledge has objected to the merger. Bergmayer said that in the light of the Netflix deal the FCC the Justice Department and Congress should move to “ensure that the broadband market continues to meet the needs of its users, and allows companies like Netflix to offer the services that users have demonstrated they want.”