Verizon Told To Pull FiOS '#1 In HD Picture Quality' Ad Claim

Verizon Communications should discontinue its claim that "FiOS TV rates #1 in HD picture quality," the National Advertising Division of the Council of Better Business Bureaus said Thursday, which was acting on Comcast complaint about the telco's claim.

The "#1 in HD picture quality" claim was based on a proprietary June 2010 survey conducted by ChangeWave Research, based on HD picture quality ratings of a panel of consumers.

The NAD, an ad industry self-regulatory body, noted that the ChangeWave survey respondents were asked, "How would you rate the HD picture quality of your TV service provider?" Respondents were not asked to view the parties' respective HDTV services in a controlled environment and rank them accordingly, as Verizon's claim implied, the group said.

"It is undisputed that no such comparative ranking was ever performed," NAD said.

Verizon, in a statement about the NAD recommendation, said that it "understands that NAD's decision concerned the specific claim at issue in this challenge, and it will consider NAD's recommendations in any future ‘Rated #1 in HD Picture Quality' claim."

Verizon added, "FiOS TV customers love rating our HD picture quality higher than competitors' customers, and we like their input."

In its decision, NAD said that head-to-head testing was required to substantiate "a subjective comparative HD picture quality/rating claim, and that the results of ChangeWave's standalone questioning of survey respondents about their own service provider did not provide a reasonable basis for comparative claims of this type." In addition, the ChangeWave survey lacked other necessary criteria, including information about how much and what type of HD programming respondents watch and what size and type of television sets they use to watch HD programming.

Verizon has on several occasions used the Better Business Bureau's NAD to dispute cable operators' claims -- particularly those pertaining to MSO ads touting their "fiber-optic networks."
Last year, for example, the NAD recommended that Time Warner Cable and Cox Communications stop describing their hybrid fiber-coax networks as "fiber-optic networks" in their marketing after a challenge by Verizon. Cox said it would take those into consideration in future advertising; TWC appealed the decision but ultimately agreed to discontinue using the phrase.
More recently, in September, after a Verizon complaint the NAD recommended that Comcast change or discontinue claims that its Xfinity services provide the "best HD picture quality," deliver the "fastest Internet available" and are "#1 in call clarity." The MSO said it would take the recommendations into consideration in future ad campaigns.