Netflix CEO Reed Hastings thinks Americans owe a debt to British satirist John Oliver for the FCC's tough stance this week on broadband monopolies in the US.
Hastings said in a personal Facebook post on Thursday:
FCC Chairman Wheeler talks about importance of gigabit for everyone and how fiber and cable can get us there. Much better goal than the prior one of slow-lanes and fast-lanes. John Oliver, we owe you!
The comment references Oliver's campaign earlier this year to raise awareness of net neutrality. Hastings reckons Oliver's mocking of the FCC's handling of the net neutrality debate has made the watchdog shake up its priorities.
In a segment for his HBO program Last Week Tonight With John Oliver, the comic and former Daily Show correspondent implored viewers to write letters to US watchdog the FCC in support of net neutrality protections.
John Oliver on net neutrality
The response from fans was swift and dramatic. With tens of thousands of messages pouring in, the FCC website buckled under the weight of public comments overwhelmingly in support of neutrality provisions.
According to data from the Sunlight Foundation, roughly 99 per cent of feedback the FCC has received regarding the fate of net neutrality has been in favor of stronger protections for treating all network packets equally.
In making his comment, Hastings has glued together the net neutrality issue and statements from FCC chairman Tom Wheeler criticizing the lack of choice many Americans have in ISPs. The lack of competition in the market has been cited as one of the factors necessitating neutrality provisions, a cause Netflix has emerged as a champion for.
Netflix has had to cut deals with broadband providers to ensure its video streams reach subscribers' homes without stalling. Netflix would, obviously, love every packet on the public internet to be treated equally so its data can flow without extra cost.
Supporters of net neutrality worry that if websites are charged to ensure their information is guaranteed transit, this will create a two-speed internet: a fast lane for rich companies, and a slow lane for services that can't afford or refuse to pony up.
ISPs and internet backbone providers argue large websites, such as Netflix, that make heavy use of the underlying network should pay towards the deployment and improvement of the web's infrastructure.
Meanwhile, Oliver had characterized Wheeler's role in the FCC as a "dingo with a baby," prompting the FCC boss to respond with hilarious results. ®