Two senior lawmakers are pushing the Federal Communications Commission to require Comcast to adhere to net neutrality principles as a condition of its pending merger with NBC Universal.
"The combination of Comcast and NBCU will give the nation's largest cable TV company and broadband provider control of a massive catalog of content, channels, and household Internet connections," Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said this week in a letter to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski.
He urged Genachowski to "promote an open Internet" by imposing conditions that would prevent the merged company from degrading competitors' online video offerings or prioritizing its own online video programs.
Earlier this year, Waxman floated a draft of neutrality legislation that would have required all wireline Internet service providers to follow the same principles, but abandoned the effort after failing to garner Republican support.
Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) likewise urged Genachowski to prohibit the merged company "from favoring or blocking access to lawful content."
"Stifling the rise of online video would thwart Commission efforts to increase broadband adoption," he wrote.
The lawmakers' letters to Genachowski come as Comcast faces new allegations that it has violated neutrality principles. Last week, Level 3 -- which was recently named primary backbone ISP for Netflix -- complained that it was going to be charged a new fee by Comcast to transmit online movies. Level 3 likened the move to Comcast putting up a tollbooth that would allow it to "unilaterally decide how much to charge for content which competes with its own cable TV and Xfinity delivered content."
Comcast responded that it had offered service to Level 3 on the same terms as to other content delivery networks.