DirecTV Sues Cox Communications Over HD Ads

Ads claiming cable’s superiority in high-definition picture quality are the subject of another lawsuit initiated by satellite-television operator DirecTV.

DirecTV filed a suit last week against Cox Communications for “false and misleading” statements made by the cable operator on its Web site. Using a March 2007 Frank A. Magid Associates research study commissioned by Comcast, Cox made several claims on its site, including, “HD looks better with cable” and “Satellite customers agreed that cable has a better HD picture.”

DirecTV contended that those claims referencing Comcast cannot also be used for Cox because cable companies throughout the country use different technology and equipment and there are “substantial differences in the quality of high-definition service provided by various cable providers.”

Earlier in the year, DirecTV and Comcast both moved for injunctive relief against each other for HD-related advertising. In August, an Illinois district court ruled that Comcast could continue the use of advertising based on the Magid picture-quality survey and ruled against DirecTV’s ads that referenced certain consumer and installer surveys.

Cox did not comment on the suit.

DirecTV has been backing its HD expansion with a major marketing push in an effort to distinguish itself from its cable competitors. The satellite-TV provider has more than 70 HD channels and expects to be carrying 100 before the end of the year and 150 by the end of 2008.

By comparison, major cable operators carry on average 20-25 linear HD channels per system, but tout their ability to offer more HD offerings, particularly movies, on-demand -- a feature that satellite providers don’t offer.