Originally appeared in Associated Press
By: Tali Arbel
July 15, 2015
Netflix, a vocal opponent of Comcast’s failed bid for Time Warner Cable, supports Charter’s quest to do the same in a deal that would create another cable giant.
In a filing with the Federal Communications Commission Wednesday, the online video company said it supports the deal because Charter says it won’t charge companies to connect to its network and reach its customers.
Charter’s policy, spread across the 19.4 million Internet customers that the larger company would serve, would be a “substantial public interest benefit” and would help get online services to consumers and promote innovation, Netflix said.
Charter’s policy and Netflix’s support of it could help sway regulators to approve the Charter deal after the Comcast-Time Warner Cable transaction fell apart in April under pressure from regulators.
Charter Communications Inc. wants to buy Time Warner Cable and Bright House for $67.1 billion to become the country’s No. 3 traditional TV provider and the second-largest home Internet supplier after Comcast.
“It’s certainly a positive for closing the deal, absolutely,” said BTIG analyst Rich Greenfield, and “a nice win for Netflix.” But he there are still roadblocks to regulatory approval for Charter because the government is concerned about the lack of competition in the broadband market.
A spokeswoman for the Federal Communications Commission declined to comment because the transaction was under review.
After the Comcast deal collapsed because regulators worried that it could impede online video competitors and would have too much power over the nation’s high-speed Internet access, Charter is trying to position itself as a good Internet actor.
It proposed Wednesday that it will continue to let companies connect to its network without paying until the end of 2018. Why does this matter? Netflix Inc. fought with Comcast and other big Internet providers over these commercial arrangements and in 2014 ended up paying Comcast to connect directly to its network after congestion issues hurt video quality for Netflix customers.
The FCC has been concerned about these deals, and it has the power to hear disputes between Internet providers and companies according to its net neutrality rules that went into effect in June.
In another bid to endear itself to government regulators, Charter has said that it will submit disputes over these commercial Internet deals to the agency. It has also promised to roll out faster Internet with no data caps for Time Warner Cable and Bright House customers and said it will abide by the government’s new “net neutrality” rules against blocking and slowing down Internet traffic and creating special paid fast lanes.