The Comcast-Time Warner Cable deal continues to draw fire from U.S. Senator Al Franken.
In a letter Wednesday to Netflix co-founder and CEO Reed Hastings, the senator pressed Hastings to go on record about how the Comcast-Time Warner Cable deal could hurt internet content providers.
If the merger goes through, Franken wrote that it “would give Comcast both the power and the incentive to act as a gatekeeper on the Internet, raising costs and limiting choices for consumers.”
Franken went on to say that Hastings and Netflix are “uniquely positioned to gauge the risks” of the potential buyout, in part due to the controversial deal that Netflix and Comcast recently made.
Franken questioned the veracity of the interconnection agreement Netflix signed with Comcast to lessen congestion, specifically if the agreement came at Netflix’s request. The senator wants to know whether the “request” to Comcast was voluntary or really a demonstration of the kind of power Comcast can wield as a web gatekeeper over content providers.
“My concern is that Comcast will use its clout in the broadband distribution market to obtain an anticompetitive advantage in the content market,” Franken said. “Comcast can achieve this by blocking, degrading, raising costs for, or otherwise interfering with unaffiliated content that relies on Comcast’s distribution network to reach consumers.”
Franken went on to say that he interconnection agreement Netflix signed to assure its streaming videos could reach consumers without congestion “seems to illustrate my point.”
“If incidents like this become the norm – as I fear is more likely if Comcast is allowed to acquire Time Warner Cable – it would have serious implications for consumers.”