Cable Operators

DirecTV Hits Comcast HD Ads

5/18/2007 8:00 PM Eastern

DirecTV has sued Comcast over a national ad campaign, which claims that satellite customers believe the cable operator's HDTV picture quality is better than satellite's.

The nine-page suit charges Comcast with false advertising and deceptive trade practices for a print, radio and Internet ad campaign the nation's largest cable company kicked off in early May. The complaint was filed May 7 in Chicago in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.

The action asks that Comcast be enjoined from “engaging in any further false advertising and promotion,” that it be ordered to retract and correct its “misleading” claims and that it pay unspecified damages to DirecTV.

The lawsuit cited the text in Comcast's print ads, which said, “Comcast wins the HD Picture Challenge. Satellite customers agree: HD looks better with Comcast.”

Comcast's claims are based on a survey that it commissioned from Frank N. Magid Associates (“Comcast: Our HD Looks Best,” May 7, page 12).

That March poll found that in side-by-side comparisons, “two-thirds of satellite customers expressing a preference between Comcast and DirecTV and between Comcast and Dish Network said Comcast delivered a better HD image.”

DirecTV's complaint challenged those findings.

“The Magid survey upon which Comcast relies does not provide or sufficiently substantiate the propositions for which Comcast cites the survey,” the suit said. “Comcast's advertising and promotional claims, including the aforementioned, are literally false.”

On Friday, Comcast defended its ads.

“We are aware of the [DirecTV] complaint,” Comcast senior director of corporate communications Jenni Moyer said. “We have not yet been served. And we stand behind the results of our survey.”

Two outside companies helped validate third-party Frank N. Magid findings. Accenture, a management and technology consulting company, oversaw the technical aspects of the test, while Loeb & Loeb, a national law firm, provided legal guidance on the survey process.

DirecTV's suit isn't the only litigation that's been filed over HDTV ads: DirecTV is being sued over its TV spots. Time Warner Cable filed a false-advertising suit against DirecTV that is currently pending in U.S. District Court in New York.

DirecTV's suit against Comcast was reported earlier in Satellite Business News.

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