A judge on Monday blocked DirecTV from airing advertisements in which Jessica Simpson and William Shatner say its high-definition television service provides better pictures than Time Warner Cable’s high-definition service.
“It’s broadcast in 1080i,” Simpson says in her DirecTV ad. “I totally don’t know what that means, but I want it.”
DirecTV Group Inc. can still use comparative advertising stating that its overall picture quality is superior to Time Warner Cable Inc.’s because evidence has not established that DirecTV’s all-digital service as a whole is not superior to cable’s mix of digital and analog, the judge said.
U.S. District Judge Laura Taylor Swain said Time Warner Cable was entitled to a preliminary ruling blocking the ads from being shown while a lawsuit proceeds through the Manhattan federal court.
In a statement, DirecTV spokesman Jon Gieselman said the ruling meant that two ads that had completed their runs two months ago cannot be shown in markets where Time Warner exists.
“However, we will continue to aggressively market our better overall picture quality, which is permitted by the court’s opinion,” DirecTV said. “It’s obvious their strategy is to fight with us in the courts since they can’t compete with our superior product in the marketplace. We are confident we will prevail on both fronts.”
The judge rejected Time Warner Cable’s request that DirecTV be required to show corrective advertising, saying such extraordinary relief was not warranted in this case.
But she said Time Warner had shown it was likely to succeed on its claim that the commercials and Internet ads were false when they said DirecTV’s high-definition programming is superior to that of Time Warner Cable.
In the Simpson ad, the singer-actress plays the character Daisy Duke from “The Dukes of Hazzard” movie when she kicks down a restaurant patron who slapped her and tells him: “Hey, 253 straight days at the gym to get this body and you’re not going to watch me on DirecTV HD? You’re just not going to get the best picture out of some fancy big screen TV without DirecTV. It’s broadcast in 1080i. I totally don’t know what that means, but I want it.”
Time Warner Cable filed its lawsuit in December, accusing DirecTV of deceptive trade practices.
The lawsuit claimed DirecTV lied about the accessibility of NFL broadcasts in an attempt to pry customers from Time Warner Cable.
The suit sought unspecified damages and a court order to stop DirecTV from saying in advertising that Time Warner Cable subscribers cannot watch their local NFL teams play games when DirecTV is showing games on the NFL Network.
Among other claims, Time Warner Cable accused DirecTV of using advertising featuring Simpson and Shatner to say its high-definition television service provides a picture quality that is superior to Time Warner Cable’s.
Time Warner Cable said those ads were false because the companies provide the same screen resolution. At best, the lawsuit said, DirecTV’s picture quality is “merely equivalent.”
In the Shatner ad, the actor plays Capt. James T. Kirk from the “Star Trek” television series when he says: “I wish he’d just relax and enjoy the amazing picture clarity of the DirecTV HD we just hooked up. With what Starfleet just ponied up for this big screen TV, settling for cable would be illogical.”