Netflix chief conditionally backs AT&T-Time Warner deal

Netflix chief conditionally backs AT&T-Time Warner deal
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Netflix's chief executive is sending signals that his company would accept AT&T's purchase of Time Warner as long as it didn’t affect the way Netflix content was treated.

Speaking at the Wall Street Journal’s WSJD conference, Reed Hastings said the "key thing is whether there is going to be net neutrality, which hasn’t been AT&T’s favorite topic," according to the Journal.

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He further sketched out his views on the deal in an interview with CNBC.

“We didn’t know anything about it so we’re just sorting through it. For sure, we want to require that for AT&T customers, that HBO and Netflix are treated the same,” Hastings said. 

“Now that they're going to own HBO, we think that any special treatment for HBO data would be inappropriate, but I think that's pretty basic.”

Netflix’s support for the deal could be important. As a major streaming content provider, the company can be influential on deals that have implications for net neutrality — the idea that all content on the internet should be treated in the same way.

The company opposed the merger of Comcast and Time Warner Cable but backed the ultimately successful tie-up of Time Warner Cable and Charter Communications.

The AT&T-Time Warner merger, valued at more than $85 million, is one of the biggest media deals of the year. It would give AT&T a major leg up in the content industry — with properties like HBO and CNN — as it looks to push past the limits of its core wireless industry.

The deal will face significant regulatory scrutiny from the Justice Department and possibly the Federal Communications Commission. Critics allege it would be in an untenable example of media consolidation, but the company says antitrust concerns are minimal because the two companies are in different business areas.