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Obama Reiterates Opposition to Paid Streaming Priority

9 Oct, 2014 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Obama addressing net neutrality issue in Santa Monica, Calif.

President Obama Oct. 9 reaffirmed his support for new net neutrality legislation that would level the playing field for companies and services delivering streaming content over the Internet.

While in Los Angeles for a fundraiser, Obama addressed a town hall gathering at Cross Campus, a Santa Monica, Calif.-based Web think tank, to address the Federal Communication Commission’s ongoing efforts at establishing new net neutrality guidelines after an appeals court struck existing legislation in January.

FCC chairman Tom Wheeler, an Obama appointee, is tasked with spearheading new net neutrality guidelines. The former cable industry lobbyist made waves when he said he would be in favor of tiered streaming channels based on fees that were fair and commercially viable.

Such tiered service is what Netflix has reluctantly agreed to pay major ISPs such as Comcast, Verizon and AT&T to ensure its subscribers have unfettered streaming access to content. Netflix CEO Reed Hastings has blasted the agreements as added taxes for distribution subscribers already pay for.

ISPs counter that Netflix is the largest user of broadband distribution during peak primetime hours and thus should pay an additional fee for the required bandwidth. Net neutrality advocates have denounced the peer agreements as extortion.

“There are a lot of aspects to net neutrality. I know one of the things that people are most concerned about is paid prioritization, the notion that somehow some folks can pay a little more money and get better service, more exclusive access to customers through the Internet,” Obama told the gathering, as reported by The Wrap. “That's something I'm opposed to. I was opposed to it when I ran. I continue to be opposed to it now.”

The Internet Association, a Washington, D.C.-based lobby group whose members include Netflix and Google, lauded the President for opposing peering agreements.

“President Obama made clear tonight that a functioning Internet industry is essential for continued innovation and economic growth in the U.S. Enforceable net neutrality rules and meaningful patent reform will allow businesses to innovate and grow free of artificial hindrances like slow lanes and patent trolls,” Michael Beckerman, CEO of the Internet Association, said in a statement.

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