The committee, appropriately named FLIXPAC, will allow Netflix to make direct contributions of up to $5,000 to political candidates in each election.
Why would Netflix want to donate to politicians? It’s actually not that far-fetched given the handful of legislative decisions the company has been rallying for during the past few years. Most recently, representatives from the company spoke at a Senate judiciary committee about an updated version of the Video Privacy Protection Act (VPPA), which prohibits companies like Netflix from sharing a person’s movie-rental history.
And, as Netflix continues to ramp up its library of original television programing, it’ll be increasingly more interested in digital copyright and intellectual property rights legislation, such as the now defunct SOPA and PIPA proposed bills.
Congressional records show that Netflix spent just $20,000 on federal lobbying in 2009, but it increased that amount substantially to more than $500,000 in 2011, as Politico points out. The company has also reportedly used several registered lobbyists, including services from major lobbying firms Franklin Square Group, Monument Policy Group, and Kountoupes Consulting.
The company hasn’t made an official statement about FLIXPAC, but we’ve reached out for more details.
Update 4/9/2012 (4:02 p.m. PST): We’ve included an official statement about the PAC from Netflix, which is pasted below. It’s worth noting that several blogs are insinuating that the PAC will be used for the sole purpose of advocating for bills like SOPA and PIPA, which isn’t necessarily true. The PAC will simply give the company a stronger voice in the discussion of any piece of legislation that may affect Netflix’s business, regardless of the stance.
“PACs are commonplace for companies that lead a big, growing market and Netflix is no exception. Our PAC is a way for our employees to support candidates that understand our business and technology. It was not set up for the purpose of supporting SOPA or PIPA. Instead, Netflix has engaged on other issues including network neutrality, bandwidth caps, usage based billing and reforming the Video Privacy Protection Act.”
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