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Netflix's CEO gives conditional OK to AT&T-Time Warner merger

Reed Hastings has no objection to the blockbuster deal, as long as it doesn't conflict with net neutrality.

Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Reed Hastings says he has no problem with AT&T's $85 billion bid for Time Warner -- as long as it doesn't allow an "unfair advantage."

The Netflix CEO said Monday he wouldn't object to the deal "as long as HBO's bits and Netflix's bits are treated the same." Hastings raised the issue of net neutrality when asked about the blockbuster merger during an onstage interview at the Wall Street Journal's WSJDLive global technology conference in Laguna Beach, California.

"The key thing is whether there is going to be net neutrality, which hasn't been AT&T's favorite topic," he said, referring to the principle that all traffic on the internet should be treated equally. "If they got there...then good things might happen."

With the tepid endorsement, Hastings joins a growing list of tech figures who aren't raising any objections to the deal, which would combine the media giant's entertainment properties, including HBO and CNN, with the telecommunications giant's millions of wireless and pay-television subscribers.

As for Netflix, Hastings says the company's focus will remain on entertainment, rejecting any introduction of news or sports programming. But he predicted that a day may come when movies and TV shows would fall out of favor -- "like the opera and the novel." But, he said, "there will be substitutes.

"The ultimate challenge for us is: What is that new form of content? Is it VR, AR? Is it pharmacological?" he joked.