Investor Group Seeks Transparency on Netflix Political Lobbying, Citing ‘Potential Reputational Damage’

A Netflix investor group has submitted a shareholder proposal seeking more transparency regarding the streamer’s political lobbying and contributions.

In a May 18 regulatory filing, Boston Common Asset Management said it is seeking shareholder support for its Proposal 8 on the company’s upcoming 2022 shareholder proxy vote.

The group seeks input on Netflix policy and procedures governing lobbying, both direct and indirect, in addition to any payments made by the streaming behemoth. Specifically, Boston Common seeks intel on Netflix’s membership in and payments to organizations that write and endorse legislation. It also seeks a description of co-CEO’s Reed Hastings and Ted Sarandos’ management and the board’s decision-making process and oversight for making the aforementioned payments.

“Without a clear system ensuring accountability, corporate assets can be used to promote public policy objectives that are misaligned with company public positions and principles, and therefore can pose risks to Netflix’s reputation to the detriment of shareholder value,” Boston Common wrote in the filing.

According to the filing, Netflix spent about $690,000 on federal lobbying in 2021, and more than $8.8 million since 2012. The tally does not include state lobbying expenditures. Boston Common claims Netflix spent $406,250 on lobbying in California from 2019 to 2020. Netflix also reportedly spent between €700,000 ($739,000) and €799,999 ($845,000) on lobbying in Europe in 2020.

According to press reports, Netflix has “focused more of its public policy strategy internationally, where most of its growth lies and where it faces tenacious regulators.”

Netflix says it opposes Proposal 8, contending it already discloses political and lobbying expenditures.