DirecTV to Pull Disputed Ads

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DirecTV Thursday agreed to stop running ads claiming that cable subscribers won’t be able to see games carried by NFL Network that are also broadcast locally, as well as ads asserting that the direct-broadcast satellite operator’s HD-picture quality is superior to cable’s.

The move to stop the ads came one week after Time Warner Cable filed a false-advertising lawsuit against DirecTV in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

The stipulated injunction concerning the ads was agreed to by DirecTV and Time Warner and was accepted by Judge Laura Taylor Swain. The MSO is still seeking unspecified monetary damages, including attorney and court fees.

In a prepared statement, Jon Gieselman, DirecTV’s senior vice president of advertising and communications, said the company has “always maintained that our ads are truthful and accurate in that they already point out that NFL [National Football League] games would be simulcast over the air and available locally. We have simply agreed that we would not run any ads suggesting that certain subscribers would miss games being broadcast in their local markets.”

Time Warner’s suit alleged that DirecTV ran “blatantly false” newspaper ads in New York, Cincinnati, Green Bay, Wis., and other markets that said cable subscribers wouldn’t be able to watch games carried by NFL Network. In fact, cable customers will be able to see home-team games on local broadcast channels, Time Warner said.

For example, the Dec. 30 game between the New York Giants and Washington Redskins -- carried nationally by the NFL Network -- will be broadcast by WNBC in the New York metro area.

The cable operator’s lawsuit also accused DirecTV of false advertising for ads touting supposedly superior HDTV-picture quality with the tag line: “For picture quality that beats cable, you’ve got to get DirecTV.” Time Warner Cable said in the complaint that its HD services “provide exactly the same screen resolution” as DirecTV’s, and that the DBS company can’t substantiate the claim of superior picture quality.

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