Angus King’s Gambit – WSJ

Laveta Brigham

By The Editorial Board Close Table of Contents The Editorial BoardMaine Sen. Angus King speaks at a press conference to introduce the COVID Emergency Relief Framework in Washington, D.C., Dec. 1. The Editorial Board Dec. 16, 2020 6:34 pm ET Maine Sen. Angus King speaks at a press conference to […]

Maine Sen. Angus King speaks at a press conference to introduce the COVID Emergency Relief Framework in Washington, D.C., Dec. 1.



Photo:

Michael Brochstein/Zuma Press

Democrats have pushed to expand government entitlements and business mandates during the pandemic. Now

Maine Sen. Angus King

wants

Netflix

and other streaming services to provide complementary entertainment to help Americans social distance over the holidays.

“At this time, we must find ways to incentivize people to follow guidance from the CDC, their employer, local public health officials, or school leaders,” Mr. King wrote in a letter this week to Netflix,

Amazon,

Disney

and WarnerMedia. Americans left to their own devices will “carry on their typical holiday traditions instead of remaining safely at home.”

To encourage Americans to “make responsible choices”—i.e., abstain from merriment with family and friends—Mr. King is asking the platforms to “provide temporary service at no cost to non-subscribers.” He added: “I look forward to hearing what steps you see feasible and able to be accomplished to limit the health emergency that COVID-19 is posing at this difficult time.”

Who knew Netflix could slow Covid? The pandemic has been a boon for online streaming services, which have added tens of millions of new users during the pandemic. Disney+ now boasts 74 million, up from 50 million in April. There’s no evidence, however, the streaming surge has stopped the virus from spreading.

In any case, many young people already free-ride on subscriptions of family and friends. Increased streaming of “The Queen’s Gambit” or “Seinfeld” reruns would increase broadband traffic and slow speeds for other uses including telemedicine visits and FaceTiming with grandparents. There’s no such thing as free Netflix.

Speaking of which—Democrats want the Federal Communications Commission to reclassify broadband providers as common carriers so they could be forced to provide free “public services,” which is how Mr. King labels entertainment. Senate Republicans last week checked these liberal ambitions by confirming GOP Commissioner

Nathan Simington.

A 2-2 deadlocked commission should keep Democrats from doing damage to the internet during the pandemic when people need it to work and learn safely at home.

Wonder Land: Business owners are pushing back against extreme Covid-19 restrictions, largely in liberal states such as New York and California. Images: Shutterstock/Reuters Composite: Mark Kelly

Copyright ©2020 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved. 87990cbe856818d5eddac44c7b1cdeb8

Appeared in the December 17, 2020, print edition.

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