Yesterday Senator Al Franken (D-Minn.), the seemingly lone voice of dissension in Senate hearings about the proposed $45.2 billion merger between Comcast and Time Warner Cable, has written a letter to Netflix asking the company to weigh in.
"I am deeply concerned that Comcast's proposed acquisition of Time Warner Cable would give Comcast both the power and the incentive to act as a gatekeeper on the Internet, raising costs and limiting choices for consumers," Franken wrote in a letter (PDF) to Netflix CEO Reed Hastings on Wednesday. "As a popular provider of Internet content that competes directly with Comcast, Netflix is uniquely positioned to gauge the risks posed by this deal. I therefore write to invite you or your designee to share Netflix's views."
Senator Franken reached out to Netflix because the company recently struck a deal with Comcast to get better access to its customers by paying for faster pipes. Hastings later issued a public statement saying that net neutrality rules need to be rewritten to deal with this sort of thing.
Netflix is not the only company to pay Comcast for interconnection; Facebook and Google, also pay Comcast for faster speeds.
In his letter, Franken bluntly asked Hastings to say whether he thinks Comcast's merger with Time Warner Cable would hurt Internet consumers and other Internet content providers.
"My concern is that Comcast will be able to use its clout in the broadband distribution market to obtain an anticompetitive advantage in the content market," Franken wrote. "Comcast can achieve this by blocking, degrading, raising costs for, or otherwise interfering with unaffiliated content that relies on Comcast's distribution network to reach consumers."
A Netflix spokesperson said that the company has "received Senator Franken's letter and will respond to it."