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Netflix CEO: Net neutrality is no longer our ‘primary battle’

But Reed Hastings says the open internet is an important principle.

Netflix CEO Reed Hastings Asa Mathat

For many years, Netflix had been an outspoken, aggressive advocate for net neutrality, urging the U.S. government to implement strong rules that require internet providers to treat all web traffic equally.

But the company has been much quieter as the Federal Communications Commission under President Donald Trump has sought to scrap the regulations currently on the books. And that’s because Netflix’s priorities have changed.

“It’s not our primary battle at this point,” said Netflix CEO Reed Hastings onstage at the Code Conference in California.

“We think net neutrality is incredibly important,” Hastings cautioned, but he said it’s “not narrowly important to us because we’re big enough to get the deals we want.” The Netflix chief did not mention any of those arrangements in particular, but the company has worked with the likes of T-Mobile to exempt streaming movies and TV shows from customers’ data caps.

Hastings stressed the company is still active as FCC Chairman Ajit Pai looks to repeal current net neutrality rules, which subject internet providers to utility-like regulation in order to protect the open web. They’ve done so through one of their main lobbying groups, the Internet Association. “I think Trump’s FCC is going to unwind the rules no matter what anybody says,” Hastings said.

Otherwise, the Netflix chief said the burden is on the rest of the startup community to fight this latest round at the FCC.

“We had to carry the water when we were growing up and we were small,” Hastings said, “and now other companies need to be on that leading edge.”

Watch: Reed Hastings on net neutrality

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