International Business Times reports that Sen. Al Franken — perhaps the most vocal opponent of the Comcast-Time Warner merger in Congress — is now calling on Netflix to join that opposition, sending an “impassioned” letter to Reed Hastings, CEO of the movie-streaming service.
The letter follows a recent deal in which Netflix begrudgingly agreed to pay Comcast to connect directly to Netflix servers, thereby improving the streaming quality of Netflix movies and television shows. The terms of that deal weren’t disclosed, but Hastings has been critical of the arrangement. In a blog post on March 20, while not directly referring to the Comcast-Netflix deal, he criticized the notion of large Internet service providers “extracting a toll because they can.” The practice, Hastings wrote, is a threat to Net neutrality, the principle that all content on the Internet should be treated equally. He also wrote that Netflix’s reluctant decision to agree to the deal is only a short-term fix.
Comcast denies that its Netflix deal violates net neutrality deals — under the terms of its merger with NBCUniversal a few years back, it’s not supposed to violate those principles for several years yet — but it’s true that the company’s films are streaming much more reliably to Comcast customers since the deal. Netflix has not yet formally responded to Franken.