After the FCC voted 3-2 in favor of repealing net neutrality, Disney’s CEO reiterated that net neutrality has never been an issue for the company.
CEO Bob Iger spoke this evening during a Q&A held by Disney’s executive team following the company’s major, $52.4 billion acquisition of 21st Century Fox. When asked how he views the debate around net neutrality, which could potentially grant internet service providers the ability to control traffic for sites through the introduction of fast lanes, which would allow individual companies to pay an additional fee to deliver content faster to customers, Iger said the company is neutral on the matter.
“We believe that nothing will really stand in the way of great content, in-demand content, and the consumer,” Iger said. “We’ve never really believed net neutrality is really an issue for us and we continue to believe that’s the case, and with this acquisition, we believe that to be even more of the case.”
Iger’s response comes on the same day that Disney took a 60 percent majority ownership of Hulu, one of the largest streaming services in the world. Disney has plans to run three, stand-alone streaming services and could benefit from net neutrality being repealed. As The Verge pointed out earlier today:
Combined with Fox, it now has massive leverage over the content industry. It can use that leverage to compete with Comcast, AT&T, and Verizon, because, like Disney, those ISPs are trying to sell people their own video services. Because Disney now owns so much content, other media companies have greater incentive to consolidate to improve their bargaining positions. And ISPs have greater incentive to merge with media companies so they can reap profit from the content that travels on their networks. It’s an escalating cycle of consolidation.
Despite Iger’s statement, the CEO reiterated that the company wasn’t taking a stance today. Other companies, including Google, Netflix and Twitch have come out in support of net neutrality. Following the vote to repeal net neutrality earlier today, Netflix tweeted out its condemnation of the decision, adding that without net neutrality, the company would not have had the opportunity to grow into the force that it is today.
“We’re disappointed in the decision to gut Net Neutrality protections that ushered in an unprecedented era of innovation, creativity and civic engagement,” the statement on Twitter reads. “This is the beginning of a longer legal battle. Netflix stands with innovators, large and small, to oppose this misguided FCC order.”
Polygon has reached out to Disney for further clarification on Iger’s statement, and to request a statement on the company’s official stance.