Leahy urges Comcast to extend net neutrality rules beyond 2018

WASHINGTON, April 9 Wed Apr 9, 2014 10:31am EDT

WASHINGTON, April 9 (Reuters) - U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, urged Comcast to support stronger, extended net neutrality rules at a hearing Wednesday on Comcast's plan to merge with Time Warner Cable.

Leahy noted that Comcast agreed to the rules as part of its 2011 deal to buy NBC Universal, and that the No. 1 cable company had reaffirmed its commitment to so-called network neutrality rules, which ban Internet providers from slowing down or blocking access to content online.

"The conditions that currently apply to Comcast should not be seen as the end point, but rather the minimum level of protection that should apply to promote competition online," said Leahy.

"I urge Comcast to support stronger rules that will protect consumers and drive innovation," said Leahy.

Federal Communications Commission rules aimed at ensuring net neutrality were struck down in January but the agency is aiming to rewrite them. (Reporting by Diane Bartz and Alina Selyukh; Editing by Doina Chiacu)