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DirecTV Sues Comcast Over HD Ad

May 24, 2007  •  Post A Comment

Satellite-television service DirecTV slapped Comcast with a lawsuit last week, crying foul over an advertising campaign the cable operator launched that claims it offers superior HD picture quality.
The suit accuses Comcast of false advertising and deceptive trade practices in touting a Magid & Associates study that said consumers prefer Comcast’s HD picture quality to DirecTV and EchoStar’s Dish service.
The suit comes just two weeks after Comcast launched a national ad campaign based on the study, where 309 participants viewed side-by-side images identical TV sets to compare HD signals on various providers and channels.
Comcast commissioned the study following a series of ads by DirecTV claiming the satellite provider will “soon” have more HD channels than cable.
“The Magid survey upon which Comcast relies does not prove or sufficiently substantiate the propositions for which Comcast cites the survey,” DirecTV alleges in the lawsuit.
The suit doesn’t detail any specific inaccuracies in the Magid study, but earlier this month DirecTV spokesman Robert Mercer said the study provided no details about the equipment used and noted there are several ways that picture quality could be skewed in favor of Comcast.
“The survey Comcast relies on does not prove, or sufficiently substantiate, its advertising claims,” Mr. Mercer said. “Comcast has made little information about its self-serving study available to the public, conveniently leaving out important details, so it can shape the results into an unfair and inaccurate attack on DirecTV.”
The suit calls for a cessation and public correction of the Comcast ads, as well as compensation for any monetary losses caused by the campaign.
A Comcast spokeswoman said the company “stands behind the results of the survey.”
“It was conducted by an outside third party, and the process and methodology were certified by three independent third-party organizations,” Comcast spokeswoman Jenni Moyer said.
Dish Network, which received lower scores than DirecTV in the study, has not issued any official response. During a shareholders conference call earlier this month, EchoStar CEO Charlie Ergen was quoted by the Rocky Mountain News complaining about the study, describing it as a desperate measure that undermines Comcast’s credibility.
In other DirecTV news, the satellite provider also announced the addition of several channels to its fall HD upgrade. From Discovery Communications, the company will add Discovery Channel, TLC, Animal Planet and the Science Channel. From Starz, the provider will launch Starz Edge, Starz Comedy and Starz Kids & Family, as well as Starz’s East and West Coast HD feeds.
DirecTV is aiming for a September launch for its upgrade, which promises about 100 HD channels by the end of the year.

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