Netflix Formally Flags Comcast, Files Complaint With FCC To Block TWC Merger

Netflix has been butting heads with cable companies over tolls the latter want to charge in exchange for guaranteeing that Netflix's streaming content makes it into homes without any hiccups. So, it doesn't come as much surprise that Netflix is one of the first in line to publicly oppose Comcast's proposed buyout of Time Warner Cable (TWC), which if approved would see the merger of the two largest cable operators in the U.S.

The streaming service made public a redacted version of its petition to deny the acquisition. At the heart of Netflix's petition is the creation of a combined entity that would give Comcast and TWC "the ability to turn a consumer's Internet experience into something that more closely resembles cable television" through fees charged at interconnection points and "by other means." According to Netflix, this would harm Internet companies, especially online video distributors, and give the cable companies control of a dominate share of the nation's residential broadband business.

Comcast Truck
Image Source: Flickr (Mike Mozart)

Netflix pointed to past precedence in an attempt to persuade the FCC to see things its way. The petition says that a nearly identical fact pattern emerged 14 years ago when AT&T and MediaOne, the two largest cable operators during that time, wanted to merge. However, the federal government intervened and insisted that the companies divest one of the broadband businesses to prevent the ability to do harm to Internet content providers. According to Netflix, Comcast and TWC are in the same position that AT&T and MediaOne were more than a decade ago.

The 256-page petition raises several concerns, including how the merger would ultimately raise prices for consumers and would allow Comcast to try and bamboozle customers into upgrading their service, as it's allegedly already done.

"Comcast engaged in strategies to degrade its own customers' ability to watch Netflix's video, Comcast sold customers who wanted access to high-quality Netflix video a more expensive broadband package even as it knew that a higher-speed broadband plan would do nothing to address the quality of Netflix's video," Netflix argues in the petition.

If you want to read the entire petition for yourself, grab your PDF reader and click here.