August 08, 2011 11:25am PT by Eriq Gardner
DirecTV Defends Football Commercials Against 'Deceptive' Comcast Lawsuit
Comcast sued DirecTV last week over a national advertising campaign allegedly intended to mislead football fans into think they would be getting "free" football with service.
Now the satellite giant has responded to Comcast's emergency injunctive request, saying its ads are truthful and that Comcast waited two months after the ads first aired before filing legal action.
In its brief to an Illinois magistrate judge, DirecTV says that Comcast's allegations that it is misleading people "borders on absurd."
Comcast had argued that DirecTV was trying to pull a bait-and-switch, luring fans with "free offers" but actually imposing on them a two-year contract with "hefty" cancellation fees, plus automatic renewal in the second year at the full price.
In response, DirecTV says the actual phrase in its ads is "no extra charge," which has allegedly been transposed to "free" by Comcast "as if it means the same thing."
The satellite giant gives the judge the Merriam Webster dictionary's definition of the word "extra" as "more than is due, usual or necessary; additional," explaining NFL Sunday Ticket customers will be charged the usual satellite TV fees but nothing "additional" for the football package.
DirecTV also explains that commercial featuring a Philadelphia Eagles fan complaining about not being able to see his team on television. The company reveals that after the commercial came out, the National Football League objected in a letter. In response, DirecTV says it changed the commercial so that now, during the beginning moments of the ad, the words "10 am, Los Angeles" flash on the screen, so as to make clear where the disgruntled Eagles fan is actually located.
Of course, DirecTV doesn't explain why it chose to air that particular ad in the city of Philadelphia.
DirecTV does say it ran in its commercials, though, all the necessary disclosures about the 2-year agreement and auto-renewal conditions and directed consumers to its website for further details about the conditions of its offer.
That might be true, though it requires an eagle-eye (or pause and zoom) to spot it. Can you? Here's one of the advertisements in this campaign featuring just-inducted NFL Hall of Famer Deion Sanders: