Netflix CEO turns down Senate hearing

Netflix declined to appear at a Senate Commerce Committee hearing Wednesday to discuss changes in the video marketplace, according to Chairman Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.).

ADVERTISEMENT
In his opening statement for the hearing, Rockefeller said he asked Netflix CEO Reed Hastings to testify as part of the six-person panel, which included AT&T Senior Executive Vice President John Stankey and Comcast Executive Vice President David Cohen.

Hastings “declined to be here today, which I can’t figure out, because I’m trying to help him, I think,” Rockefeller said.

According to a Netflix spokesman, Hastings was unable to attend and testify because of scheduling reasons.

Netflix has recently sparked public feuds with Internet providers, including Comcast and Verizon.

Hastings has criticized Internet providers, accusing them of requiring the online video streaming company to pay an "arbitrary tax" to boost users' streaming experience.

Wednesday’s hearing discussed the growing market for online video, including from companies like Netflix, Amazon and Google.

Rockefeller touted prominent online video providers, and Netflix specifically, as having “confirmed the ability of online video to resonate with consumers and generate critical acclaim.”

He also pointed to the challenges online video companies face: They rely on Internet service providers, which are generally cable companies that offer competing video programming, to reach users.

“No online video platform has emerged that can compete on equal footing with traditional cable or satellite service,” Rockefeller said, pointing to a bill he introduced last year to boost the growth of online video.

The Consumer Choice in Online Video Act provides companies like Netflix “the breathing room necessary to compete on a level playing field with traditional pay TV services,” he said.