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Verizon Agrees To Pull Ad Quoting CNET Article

Verizon Communications will discontinue television ads for FiOS TV quoting a CNET News.com article that included the phrase “a near-flawless TV experience”—which the technology news site said was taken out of context—after the campaign finishes its run May 15.

The CNET News.com article from June 21, 2007, by telecom reporter Maggie Reardon, is not a review and included the “near-flawless” phrase in explaining that Verizon faces strong incumbent competitors in its markets, including Cablevision Systems.

“This fierce competition reinforces how important it is for Verizon to offer a near-flawless TV experience,” Reardon wrote.

Verizon senior vice president of media relations Eric Rabe, acknowledged in a blog posting Thursday that the CNET article was not a review and said the telco will stop using the quote.

But Rabe also defended Verizon’s use of “near-flawless” in the TV spot, claiming that “a fair reading of the CNET piece is that Verizon knew we had to provide near-flawless TV (and we did).”

In the Verizon ads, as the CNET blurb flashes on the screen, a voiceover says: "Your HDTV doesn't want cable. Give it Verizon FiOS, for picture quality the experts call 'near-flawless.'"

CNET senior editor David Katzmeier posted a blog entry Wednesday pointing out that the referenced article was a news story, not a review.

“Nowhere does the News.com article give any opinion, implied or overt, about FiOS TV's actual picture quality. And CNET Reviews has not evaluated FiOS TV,” Katzmeier wrote.

Verizon did obtain permission from CNET's permissions department to use the quote for one year, according to Katzmeier, but he said “the ad execution did not get reviewed” by CNET. “I appreciate Verizon's concession, and I realize that these things happen all the time,” he wrote.

Meanwhile, Verizon this week filed a false-advertising lawsuit against Time Warner Cable. Verizon alleges two of the cable company’s TV ads misrepresent the FiOS service and deliberately attempt to confuse the fiber-optic service with the satellite DirecTV service the telco resells in areas where FiOS is unavailable.