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Netflix claims it supports net neutrality, despite CFO comments

Netflix has been backtracking on its comments and commitments over the past week, looking like it has let go of its strong views on net neutrality.

It all started when Netflix announced it had partnered with iiNet - the second largest internet service provider in Australia - to remove Netflix viewing from customer’s data caps. This practice would be illegal under the new net neutrality rules the Federal Communications Commission has been pushing for in the US.

Netflix hit back claiming the internet climate in Australia was different to the US, and it needed to buy into the iiNet’s data cap expulsion in order to win customers in the region.

"We are strong advocates for Net neutrality and don't believe data caps are good for consumers and the Internet generally," Anne Marie Sequeo, a spokeswoman for Netflix, said. "That said, such arrangements are common in Australia and we won't put our new members at a disadvantage to those of rival services."

The questions on Netflix’s stance grew when chief financial officer David Wells told an audience at Morgan Stanley’s investor conference the company was upset the FCC pushed for Title II reclassification.

This is contrary to the vast amount of Netflix statements claiming it needed Title II reclassification to stop broadband providers from forcing the video streaming company to pay more for decent video quality.

Wells has since revoked his comments, claiming they were used out of context. "We were hoping that there might be a non-regulated solution," Wells said. "But it seems like companies that are pursuing their commercial interests, including us, have to arrive at something like that."

Netflix has been forced to pay Comcast, AT&T, Verizon, Time Warner Cable and Cablevision high amounts for faster networking, but if the FCC reclassifies broadband that could all change, freeing up millions of dollars for more original programming and content licensing.

The confusion on where Netflix stands in the net neutrality debate is worrying, not least because the huge consumer response shows companies want to believe and help companies like Netflix.

David has been a technology journalist for over six years, covering a wide range of sectors. He currently researches apps, app sectors and app markets for Business of Apps, and has written for ITProPortal, RTInsights, ReadWrite, and Digital Trends.