Last July, Netflix praised the Title II approach to net neutrality, which at the time was seen as unlikely to be embraced by the FCC. But now that the FCC has given us exactly what Netflix and others have asked for, net neutrality rules utilizing Title II of the Telecommunications Act, comments from the company’s CFO suggested that the company had changed its tune.
In an apparent 180, Netflix CFO David Wells indicated that the company was less than thrilled with the FCC’s plan. When questioned about the new rules, Mr. Wells stated that Netflix was “probably not” pleased with the new approach to protecting net neutrality, surprising many who had long viewed Netflix and outspoken CEO Reed Hastings as some of the biggest proponents of tougher regulations. According to Wells, Netflix would have preferred an industry solution rather than a regulatory one.
A spokesperson for Netflix later attempted to walk back Wells’ comments, insisting that the company still supported net neutrality, and that their CFO was only trying to explain how the company’s “evolution in our thinking.” Despite the damage control, taken alone, it sure sounded like David Wells was denouncing the FCC’s actions, giving fodder to other net neutrality opponents. For many observers, the sudden changes in position are reason to wonder about Netflix’s sincerity as an active participant in the net neutrality debate.