Withdraws complaint about misleading customers

Comcast said Friday that it was dropping a suit against DirecTV in which it alleged that the satellite provider was misleading customers in claims over an offer for its NFL Sunday Ticket package.

Comcast said that with a settlement announced in an Illinois federal court, it was withdrawing its complaint because DirecTV “has discontinued or modified its false and misleading advertising to consumers regarding its NFL Sunday Ticket package as a result of our legal action.”

Comcast claimed that DirecTV advertisements were misleading in marketing the NFL Ticket service as “free” and available “at no extra charge.” But last week, a judge refused to issue a temporary restraining order to halt the DirecTV spots. At the time, Comcast indicated that it would continue to pursue a preliminary injunction.

DirecTV insisted that its ads were not misleading, and made clear that the offer was for new customers. Earlier this week it filed a motion seeking documents and testimony related to Comcast’s communications with state attorneys general, arguing that the items may “reveal disagreements or doubt” concerning Comcast’s claims. Late last year, DirecTV reached settlements with state attorneys general across the country over claims that it engaged in deceptive and unfair sales practices, including not clearly disclosing prices and commitment terms.

DirecTV said in a statement, “Comcast lost the (temporary restraining order) last week and they withdrew their case today because they knew they were going to lose. Our NFL Sunday Ticket campaign will continue to air as planned.”

A check on the DirecTV website shows a subtle change in its ad language for the football package, to say that “this season of NFL Sunday Ticket included.” Comcast had complained that the previous ad said that NFL Sunday Ticket was “included at no extra charge” when a number of conditions were in fine print in footnotes.

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