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Appeals Court Upholds Ruling Barring DirecTV HDTV Commercials

It was a mixed bag for Time Warner Cable Thursday, as a federal appeals court ruled that some of DirecTV’s TV HD commercials should remain barred from the air but that the satellite provider’s Internet ads should remain in place.

In a 29-page opinion, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit upheld a lower ruling that banned the nation’s largest satellite provider from airing two TV spots that Time Warner deemed false and objectionable.

In February, U.S. District Court Judge Laura Swain in the Southern District of New York had issued a preliminary injunction that stopped DirecTV from airing commercials for its HD service that starred William Shatner and Jessica Simpson.

The three-judge appellate panel upheld that decision by Swain regarding those spots, which proclaimed “For an HD picture that can’t be beat, get DirecTV.”

In its ruling, the appeals court said, “DirecTV’s claims of superiority are aimed at diminishing the value of cable … The District Court thus did not err in presuming that TWC has ‘a reasonable basis’ for believing that the advertisement will likely cause it injury.”

However, the appellate panel said that the lower court should not have barred DirecTV from running several split-screen Internet ads for its HDTV service, one of which featured New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning.

While the appeals panel found that DirecTV’s Web ads were “obviously hyperbolic,” it said that the lower court should not have preliminary enjoined them from running.

Time Warner Cable had filed a false-advertising suit against DirecTV over its ads in December.