FTC to DirecTV: No more lies! Tell viewers what you really charge

Telly biz blasts back at watchdog's legal challenge: We broke no law


US watchdog the FTC is taking DirecTV direct to court, alleging the satellite TV biz fooled Americans over the true cost of its service.

The commission claims California-based DirecTV did not clearly explain to subscribers that it raised the prices on its two-year package after the first twelve months.

"DirecTV misled consumers about the cost of its satellite television services and cancellation fees," FTC chairwoman Edith Ramirez said in a canned statement.

"DirecTV sought to lock customers into longer and more expensive contracts and premium packages that were not adequately disclosed."

According to the FTC's complaint [PDF], filed in a federal district court in San Francisco, DirecTV only disclosed the first-year price of its 24-month package in its adverts, which appeared in print, online and on television.

The TV biz allegedly broke deceptive advertising laws (specifically, section 5C of the FTC Act) by neglecting to mention that the per-month price goes up $45 after 12 months, and that customers who cancel their service early will incur a $480 fee.

Additionally, the FTC says DirecTV offered three months of free premium channels without explaining to customers that the offer was part of an opt-out package that begins charging full price after the trial period.

The FTC wants to bar DirecTV from making similar claims in ads in the future.

DirecTV told The Register it will fight the complaint.

"The FTC’s decision is flat-out wrong and we will vigorously defend ourselves, for as long as it takes," the statement reads.

"We go above and beyond to ensure that every new customer receives all the information they need, multiple times, to make informed and intelligent decisions. For us to do anything less just doesn’t make sense." ®

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