TW Files Suit vs. DirecTV

NEW YORK Time Warner Cable late Thursday filed a lawsuit in federal court against DirecTV, accusing the satellite operator of false advertising and deceptive business practices related to its carriage of NFL Network.

In a 28-page complaint, filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, TW claimed DirecTV ran newspaper ads in local NFL markets, including New York, Green Bay and Cincinnati, that said football fans would be locked out of certain in-market NFL Net games unless they subscribed to DirecTV.

In fact, in-market NFL Net games are available to fans via local broadcast affiliates. For example, DirecTV bought ad space in the New York Post and Newsday on Thanksgiving Day, allegedly claiming that the Dec. 30 game between the New York Giants and the Washington Redskins would be unavailable to “4.4 million [cable customers] in New York,” when New Yorkers would be able to catch the game on WNBC-4.

Time Warner said the two NFL Net games that have aired to date were available in their respective local markets, and that the remaining six games will also be available to local fans over broadcast TV.

Although DirecTV subsequently agreed to modify the executions, the TW suit said the satellite company ran another ad in the aforementioned Gotham dailies, as well as the New York edition of USA Today, reiterating its claim of unavailibility. DirecTV said the print run was the result of an “honest mistake,” but the company repeated the unavailable claim a third time in a full-page USA Today ad on Dec. 7, TW said in court papers.

If DirecTV is allowed to continue running the ads, TW will “lose sales, market share and good will that cannot readily be quantified or recaptured,” according to the suit.

TW also claims DirecTV’s on-air spots touting the superiority of its HDTV service are misleading.

The cable company is calling for a cessation of the ads and an undetermined award to cover damages and legal fees.