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Comcast forces Netflix partner to pay a ‘toll’ to deliver video

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An Internet service provider who competes with Netflix is now setting up a roadblock which could prevent consumers from streaming movies online.

Critics have compared Comcast’s recent demand that a Netflix partner pay a fee to deliver video over its network to extortion and blackmail.

Netflix partner Level 3 claims that on Nov. 19 Comcast demanded a reoccurring fee to “transmit Internet online movies and other content to Comcast’s customers who request such content.”

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“Level 3 agreed to the terms, under protest, in order to ensure customers did not experience any disruptions,” Thomas C. Stortz, chief legal officer for Level 3, said in a statement Monday.

Comcast has said that the disagreement was “a simple commercial dispute” and had nothing to do with network neutrality.

Net neutrality is a principle that asserts that Internet service providers (ISPs) like Comcast should not be able to place restrictions on content delivery. There are currently no regulations preventing ISPs from arbitrarily charging tolls or blocking content.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) was expected to take up the issue at its December meeting but that may be delayed so that regulators can have time to approve the merger of Comcast and NBC Universal.

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“With this action, Comcast demonstrates the risk of a ‘closed’ Internet, where a retail broadband Internet access provider decides whether and how their subscribers interact with content,” Stortz said.

The FCC is considering forcing Comcast to allow open third-party video streaming but executives met with government officials last week to oppose such a move.

“In theory, without government action, Comcast could speed up streams of NBC programs and slow down streams of its rivals’ programs,” noted The New York Times‘ Brian Stelter.

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NBC Universal indirectly competes with Netflix via its interest in Hulu, one of the largest video sites on the Internet. Comcast also has its own video on demand service which competes with Netflix.

“This may be one of those teaching moments for consumers to understand what’s at stake,” Michael McGuire, a media analyst for Gartner told the Times.

“There is no law here. There are only guiding principles. FCC clarity on this kind of thing is going to be required,” McGuire said.

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The Comcast/NBC Universal merger is also seeing opposition in the Senate where Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) has called for a Justice Department anti-trust investigation.

“The Department of Justice and the Federal Communications Commission have yet to complete their review of the proposed Comcast and NBC Universal merger. And yet, by publicly announcing their intended managers of each component of NBC Universal, Comcast has effectively told employees at NBC Universal who their ‘real bosses’ are,” Franken said.

Additionally, the American Cable Association’s (ACA) has said the merger “will send monthly cable bills higher by billions of dollars over the next decade.”

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A study (.pdf) published by the ACA “concluded that the transaction will allow Comcast-NBCU to raise programming fees way above levels the two would be able to command as separate and independent companies, and that these fee increases will largely be passed through to subscribers in the form of higher subscription prices.”

“[T]he quantifiable consumer harm of the transaction ($2.566 billion) is more than 10 times greater than the quantifiable consumer benefit ($204 million) claimed by Comcast-NBCU.”


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‘Anyone who tried to impact outcome of election should spend life in jail’: Lewandowski

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On Tuesday, Donald Trump's former campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, testified before the House Judiciary Committee. Lewandowski's appearance before Congress was significant because Donald Trump reportedly told him to tell Jeff Sessions to limit the scope of Mueller's Russia probe.

Lewandowski was defiant in his opening statement, slamming the investigation as biased and knocking Hillary Clinton. He also declared that any entity that tried to meddle in a U.S. election should be in prison.

He said that he handled as many as a thousand emails. "And unlike Hillary Clinton, I don't think I ever deleted any of those," Lewandowski said. "Many of them were either responded to with one-word answers or floated to other staff for additional follow-up. But throughout it all, and to the best of my recollection, I don't recall ever having any conversations with foreign entities, let alone any who were operating to manipulate the outcome of an election."

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‘Ranting toddler’ Doug Collins gets clobbered online after he turns Lewandowski hearing into a ‘clown show’

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Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA), the ranking Republican member on the House Judiciary Committee, was brutally mocked on Tuesday after he unleashed a bizarre rant during the testimony of former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski.

Collins began his testimony by blasting Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-NY) for hauling Lewandowski before the committee.

"Here we go again," Collins complained in an animated opening statement. "We had Mr. Mueller here, and long day, and it did not go well for what you have proclaimed for over one year and nine months, and what you claim is impeachment criteria. And now, the members have said that the president should be impeached, and so why are we investigating?"

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American neo-Nazis now see 9/11 mastermind Osama Bin Laden as a role model: report

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A new report from Vice claims that white supremacist organizations are increasingly viewing Osama Bin Laden, the late mastermind of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, as a role model whose actions can influence the future of their movement.

The report finds that neo-Nazi group Atomwaffen Division has recently started using Bin Laden's image in its propaganda while also promoting Islamist extremists' willingness to commit mass murder in the name of their religion as something that should be inspiring to American white nationalists.

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