Juan Pablo Conti ©RapidTVNews | 05-08-2011
Comcast, the largest provider of cable television in the US, has filed a lawsuit against pay-TV rival DirecTV, accusing the DTH operator of misleading advertising.
In particular, Comcast is questioning the legality of a multimillion-dollar marketing campaign that DirecTV is currently running on radio, television and online outlets to advertise what it calls its “best offer of the year”. This is because its popular NFL Sunday Ticket package (which includes coverage of all out-of-market football games on Sunday afternoons and usually retails for over $330 a year) is being offered free of charge for the upcoming season to customers subscribing to DirecTV’s Choice Xtra or higher-level packages.
However, the text of the suit filed by Comcast in a Chicago court reads that, “unfortunately for consumers, the claim of ‘free’ is an outright lie”. The cable company argues that many of the ads have been elaborately designed to conceal a crucial fact: that the Sunday Ticket offer “requires a two-year contract with hefty termination fees for early cancellation”. It also alleges that the sports package will be automatically renewed, at full price, for the second season.
DirecTV denies the accusation. “We think it’s deplorable that Comcast is trying to compete in the courtroom rather than in the marketplace,” the satellite broadcaster said in a statement. “New customers who sign up for DirecTV can indeed get NFL Sunday Ticket at no extra charge for one year and there is no requirement to subscribe to [it] the following year”.