Netflix is doing everything in its power to try and make sure that cable company giants Time Warner Cable and Comcast don't become one entity. The company filed a 256 page petition to the Federal Communications Commission yesterday, spelling out the numerous ways in which the merge, if approved, would result in serious public harm without any public benefit.
If the two cable companies come together they would hold immense power over internet dependent services like Netflix and Hulu. Both companies have already throttled Netflix's internet access, forcing Netflix to pay more money for "internet fast-lanes" so that customers can have the kind of experience they expect from the service.
TWC and Comcast also do this for an even more blatantly obvious reason: both companies have paid video-on-demand streaming services of their own to promote. By restricting internet access to third party companies like Hulu and Netflix, the cable companies can cause rival video streaming services to perform poorly, pushing customers to try and use the VOD services of Comcast and TWC.
Another problem with the merger is that most customers don't have a choice what internet provider they go with. If TWC and Comcast become one there will be even fewer options for consumers to choose from, allowing Comcast to set prices to its heart's content without having to worry about competition. Netflix also raises the problem of "terminating networks."
This is the point at which user data switches from one network to another. Netflix points out that internet service providers can deliberately congest those network routes to extract fees and that there is currently no reason for them not to.
Netflix points all this out and more to the FCC, which is currently reviewing the impact the merger would have before approving the acquisition. Many are less than optimistic that the FCC will deny the merger from happening. The FCC review of the merger is being headed by FCC chairman Tom Wheeler, a former cable industry lobbyist.
The FCC has also been battling with the public over net neutrality, or the idea that internet service providers must give equal internet access to all, rather than charging for "faster" shortcuts for some. More than a million comments have been sent the FCC's way for review on the matter. In addition to filing this petition, Netflix has also partnered with Dish Network and other groups in filing a formal brief opposed to the merger.