US DirecTV Settles Marketing Complaints

14 December 2005

US satellite broadcaster DirecTV has paid out more than $10 million (€8.9m; £5.6m) this week to settle investigations into its advertising and tele-marketing practices.

The California-headquartered company, controlled by Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation, has agreed to pay $5 million to 22 US states after investigators claimed it failed to be clear in its advertising and promotions.

And, in what the Federal Trade Commission called its largest civil penalty in a consumer-protection case, DirecTV agreed to pay $5.4m to settle charges that it had violated the FTC's rule against contacting people who have asked not to receive sales calls.

New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer said investigators involved in the advertisng probe were concerned that "small, unreadable print in advertisements modified DirecTV's offers and that consumers were locked into contracts before learning exactly what their monetary commitments to DirecTV were".

Comments DirecTV spokesman Robert Mercer: "We have reached a voluntary agreement to settle the allegation by the states, which we've denied . . . In fact, the agreement self-acknowledges that there is no finding that DirecTV violated any federal or state law."

The company also denied any violation of the telemarketing sales regulations but said it wanted to settle the charges.

It claims the majority of complaints the FTC received were related to calls made by a small number of former independent retailers which ignored DirecTV policies prohibiting unauthorized telemarketing.

Adds the company: "DirecTV has agreed to continue to closely monitor independent retailers to ensure that their telemarketing practices comply with the law and DirecTV's policies."

Data sourced from Wall Street Journal Online and; additional content by WARC staff