FTC slams DirecTV's bid to pare down false-advertising suit as case goes to trial

The Federal Trade Commission has asked a Northern California federal court judge to deny DirecTV's (NYSE: T) bid for a partial summary judgement in a lawsuit over the satellite TV company's advertising. 

Both DirecTV and the FTC have remained quiet as the case headed to trial this week -- reps from both the operator and the federal agency have yet to respond to FierceCable's inquiries for comment. 

The FTC has accused DirecTV of misleading customers in website ads and not doing enough to inform them that monthly pay-TV pricing skyrockets in the second year of two-year contracts after the one-year promotional period ends. 

DirecTV has argued that its signup website disclosed the terms of the deal and properly obtained customer consent in compliance with the Restore Online Shoppers' Confidence Act. 

"DirecTV's info-hovers and pop-ups, placed in inconspicuous locations and displayed in tiny font, do not constitute clear and conspicuous disclosures of the material terms," the FTC told the judge, while seeking to get DirecTV's bid for partial summary judgement tossed. "As such, a reasonable fact finder could conclude — and would likely conclude — that DirecTV failed to secure consumers' express informed consent."

In March, the agency filed suit against DirecTV, seeking "many millions of dollars" for those affected by the company's marketing practices.

The agency also accuses the company of misleading customers about free three-month trials of premium channels such as HBO and Showtime. DirecTV, the agency says, isn't telling its customers that they'll be automatically charged subscription fees once that free trial period ends.

Separately, the Better Business Bureau's National Advertising Division (NAD) has recommended that DirecTV change or ditch a TV ad starring model Hannah Davis and a talking horse.

The group's urging comes after Charter Communications (NASDAQ: CHTR) complained about the ad, calling it deceptive. 

In its commercial, DirecTV touts that it "has 4K, the best picture quality available." However, the NAD believes this is deceptive given that the satellite operator only offers a relatively small collection of movie titles in the 4K format.

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