Netflix floats concerns to FCC about AT&T-DirecTV merger

Will the AT&T-DirecTV merger meet the same fate as Comcast and Time Warner Cable?

If Netflix has its way it will.

Netflix is pushing for the Federal Communications Commission to reject the $48 billion merger between the telco and satellite TV company saying a union could create the “largest ISP in the country as well” as becoming the biggest MVPD.

The MVPD piece may not carry much clout with the FCC or the Justice Department but, as the fed’s reaction to Comcast and TWC merging revealed, the idea of there being a too-dominant ISP that potentially plays a gatekeeper role in the United States pushes all the wrong buttons.

Reuters reports that regulatory disclosures posted Tuesday reveals Netflix representatives recently met with the FCC, raising concerns about a combined company’s gatekeeping power. The filing isn’t a formal “petition to deny” the merger, but it is the strongest statement yet made by Netflix on the subject.

“The combination of these companies would increase the incentive and ability to limit competition and innovation in the online video space,” Netflix said, which sounds an awful lot like what FCC chief Tom Wheeler said when Comcast last month announced it was dropping its efforts to tie the knot with TWC because of government opposition. “Such market power creates new incentives and abilities to harm entities that AT&T perceives as competitive threats,” Netflix reps said, “and will exacerbate the anticompetitive behavior in which AT&T has already engaged.”

A Netflix spokeswoman said Netflix wasn’t actually opposing the merger, just highlighting its concerns.

“While we are participating in the government’s review, we are not opposing the merger,” said spokeswoman Anne Marie Squeo. “We’ve been highlighting concerns about AT&T’s broadband practices and the need for appropriate remedies since last September.”

Will this turn out to be the next non-merger?

Stay tuned.

Jim O’Neill is Editor of Videomind and Principal Analyst at Brightcove. You can follow him on Twitter @JimONeillMedia and on LinkedIn