Netflix, Amazon Prime and Disney+ urged to offer shows for free over Christmas by US senator

Angus King said the move would be a 'public service' to help stem the spread of Covid-19

This image released by Netflix shows Madalen Mills as Journey Jangle in a scene from the holiday special "Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey.  (Netflix via AP)
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A US senator has urged streaming services to offer content for free over the holiday period as a way to help stem the spread of Covid-19.

In a letter addressed to major streaming platforms including Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, Apple TV+, HBO Max, and Hulu, Angus King, Maine senator, said the move would act as a "public service" by encouraging non-subscribers to stay indoors over Christmas.

"As organisations 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," he wrote.

Senator Angus King, an Independent from Maine, wears a protective mask as he speaks to a member of the media at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2020. Treasury Secretary Mnuchin made a surprise re-entry into talks on a 2020 pandemic-relief package with a $916 billion proposal that opened a potential new path to a year-end deal despite objections from Democrats over elements of the plan. Photographer: Al Drago/Bloomberg

"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.

"At this time, we must find ways to incentivise people to follow guidance from the CDC, their employer, local public health officials, or school leaders," King continued. "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," he concluded.

While the streaming services are yet to respond to the plea, King made similar calls at the start of the pandemic for internet companies to expand their services to allow more Americans to work from home, which resulted in eight providers obliging.

It comes as Netflix and Disney+ announce upcoming price hikes in their monthly subscription services in the US, which will come into play in early 2021.

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