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Netflix Insists It Hasn’t Changed Its Net Neutrality Stance

The online video provider tried to clarify an executive’s comments made at a media conference Wednesday.


Netflix insists its position on net neutrality hasn’t changed, despite comments made by a senior executive Wednesday morning that suggested otherwise.

Netflix Chief Financial Officer David Wells said the company wasn’t thrilled that the Federal Communications Commission last week passed tough new net neutrality rules that re-regulate broadband lines. He made the comments at a Morgan Stanley media and technology conference.

(Audio of the entire conversation can be found here. )

“Were we pleased it pushed to Title II? Probably not. We were hoping there would be a non-regulated solution,” Wells said, according to Variety, which first reported the comments. He was referring to use of Title II of the Communications Act, which was written for old phone lines, as the source of regulatory authority.

Since Netflix was one of the main proponents of the FCC re-regulating Internet lines and expanding net neutrality rules to also cover middle-mile Internet connections, Wells’ remarks raised a few eyebrows. They also came just a day after Netflix ran afoul of some net neutrality advocates for a deal it struck in Australia to allow subscribers to watch its videos without it applying to their monthly data caps.

Netflix went into damage control Wednesday afternoon, with a company spokeswoman saying that Wells was “trying to convey the evolution of our position on net neutrality in recent years.”

In a statement, the company said it “supports the FCC’s action last week to adopt Title II in ensuring consumers get the Internet they paid for without interference by ISPs. There has been zero change in our very well-documented position in support of strong net neutrality rules.”

AT&T’s top D.C. lobbyist, Jim Cicconi, released a statement Wednesday night saying that “Netflix has spun a lot of tales during this FCC proceeding. But it’s awfully hard to believe their CFO would go into a major investor conference and misspeak on an issue supposedly so crucial to their future. More likely he had an attack of candor.” AT&T objects to the FCC’s use of Title II authority to regulate the Internet.

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