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King urges streaming services to make content available for free to encourage safe decisions during holidays

Sen. King requests that the streamers open up their content to non-subscribers as a public service, aiming to boost national spirits and protect public health.

WASHINGTON, D.C., USA — As coronavirus cases continue to skyrocket nationwide, U.S. Sen. Angus King (I-Maine) on Monday wrote to leaders of six major streaming services, requesting that the companies make content available free of charge to encourage Americans to stay home and slow the spread of the coronavirus during the holiday season.

In his letter, addressed to leaders of Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney +, Apple TV+, Hulu, and HBO Max, King underlines Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance that Americans should avoid traditional holiday travel and gatherings to reduce transmission of COVID-19, as well as the increased danger of social isolation during the typically festive and family-driven season. Citing their unique position to provide Americans with safe entertainment options during the winter months, King requests that the streamers open up their content to non-subscribers as a public service, aiming to boost national spirits and protect public health during this non-traditional holiday season.

“As organizations around the country continue to respond to the spread of the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, I am reaching out to discuss and consider the unique role that your companies play in providing content-based activities this holiday season,” King wrote. “Specifically, I encourage you to temporarily remove any cost considerations for use of your services for current non-subscribers as a public service to who are seeking to remain safe and indoors this holiday season, as opposed to the risks involved as the nation sees a dramatic surge in pandemic cases.

“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued guidance recommending that specific community actions be taken to limit the exposure of the virus, and has additionally encouraged Americans to avoid their usual holiday travel to reduce transmission of the coronavirus…," King continued. “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. Unfortunately, some Americans are likely to choose to ignore public health advice and carry on their typical holiday traditions instead of remaining safely at home. While your platforms would likely experience greater traffic as a consequence of extending service, we encourage you to provide temporary service at no cost to non-subscribers as a way to encourage people to make responsible choices and safely navigate this holiday season.”

King has consistently sought to spread public awareness of CDC guidelines, including wearing a mask and maintaining social distance. In November, he wrote a column in the Times Record sharing that his family would be forgoing their traditional Thanksgiving celebrations “in an act of love” to ensure the health of his loved ones, and urged Maine people to adjust their plans as well. He previously pushed to ensure that American companies are adjusting to the needs of the nation during this unprecedented challenge; in the pandemic’s early days, he successfully pressed eight major internet service providers to better support remote technologies so Americans in communities across the country could access telework, online education, telehealth, and more.

Senator King’s letter is addressed to Reed Hastings, Chairman and CEO of Netflix; Mike Hopkins, Senior Vice President of Amazon Prime Video and Amazon Studios; Rebecca Campbell, Chairman of International Operations and Direct-to-Consumer for the Walt Disney Company; Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, and Jason Kilar, CEO of WarnerMedia.

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