Netflix chief to John Oliver: ‘We owe you’

Netflix CEO Reed Hastings thinks comedian John Oliver is responsible for the Federal Communications Commission’s support for more high-speed Internet options.

“John Oliver, we owe you!” he wrote on Facebook.

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler's claim that three-quarters of the country have “no competitive choice” for fast Internet service providers and his support for new efforts like Google Fiber is a signal that the commission has raised its sights to a loftier goal, Hastings said.

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Focus on faster gigabit Internet service is a “[m]uch better goal than the prior one of slow-lanes and fast-lanes,” he added, referring to fears about the FCC’s proposed rules for Internet service companies. 

Oliver memorably used his HBO show to skewer the FCC’s net neutrality proposal, which seeks to prevent Internet service companies like Comcast from slowing or blocking users’ access to some websites, and helped turn the issue into a household name.

Critics of the FCC’s proposal have feared it would allow Web service companies to cut deals with websites like Netflix so that users have faster speeds, which could lead to “fast lanes” for wealthy companies and “slow lanes” for newer start-ups.

Hastings has been a vocal critic of the proposal, and his company has urged the FCC to reclassify broadband Internet service, so it could be treated like traditional phone service, a controversial move that would lead to a heated political battle.