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Cable vs. DBS on HD: It’s Comcast’s Turn

Comcast launched a broadside in the HD superiority wars against direct-broadcast satellite.

In a new series of national print and radio ads, Comcast cited the results of a side-to-side comparison from a polling the company commissioned by Frank N. Magid Associates indicating that Comcast delivers a better HD image than DirecTV or EchoStar Communications’ Dish Network. The polling was conducted in March, including 309 people in the survey, according to Comcast.

Participants were asked if they saw a difference in quality between HD pictures on unlabled sets carrying images from Comcast, DirecTV and Dish. According to the survey, among those who expressed a preference, 65.6% picked Comcast over DirecTV and 69.92% picked Comcast over Dish.

The ads will also counter DirecTV's claims it has more HD channels available. One ad stated that on April 24 at 9:17 p.m., Philadelphia viewers could select from among 16 HD channels on DirecTV but had 200 choices on Comcast, including PBS and MyNetwork TV affiliates unavailable from the competition. The Comcast count included 180 on-demand selections.

This is just the latest salvo by an operator against claims by DBS companies that they will offer more channels and offer better signal quality than cable TV.

A federal false-advertising suit is pending in U.S. District Court in New York brought by Time Warner Cable against DirecTV. That operator was granted an injunction that bars DirecTV from airing a TV ad claiming that its HD quality is better than cable until the false-advertising claim can be adjudicated.

Time Warner was refused a second injunction request against an ad, featuring actor Christopher Lloyd in his character from the Back to the Future films, claiming that DirecTV will soon have more HD channels than cable. Judge Laura Taylor Swain said the ad as a whole wasn't false because the firm used the term "soon."