April 10, 2008
Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC)’s TV advertisements over the past year have had a lot of people laughing. Everyone except Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ), who is now suing the cable company for false advertising.
The touchy old phone company is seeking a restraining order to prevent Time Warner from running its supposedly defamatory ads, unspecified monetary damages, and an order requiring it to retract its previous claims.
In the lawsuit, Verizon is stating that Time Warner’s claims that you need a satellite dish to get TV from the telco and its statement that Time Warner has been using fiber optics for over a decade are misleading to customers and confuse its FiOS service with its DirecTV bundled service that is offered in areas where FiOS is not yet available.
Scroll to the bottom of the story to view the main advertisement in question. That 30-second version of the ad does not include the claim that you need a satellite dish, but does include the remark that Time Warner has been using fiber optics for over a decade.
While fiber may have existed in its long haul transport network, Verizon says this statement is misleading and hides the fact that Time Warner is using coaxial cable in its last mile rather than fiber. [Ed. note: And customers care? Really?]
As for the satellite dish claims, Verizon says that the scenario acted out in the above ad depicts a salesman selling FiOS to a customer who is able to purchase it. Under such a scenario, Verizon would not be offering its bundled DirecTV package.
“These blatantly false assertions could not be more devastating to Verizon’s $23 billion investment to compete with Time Warner and other cable companies on the provision of the triple-play service to consumers,” said Verizon in its claim.
Time Warner has indicated that Verizon’s lawsuit is without merit and it will defend itself in court. Time Warner has run a number of comical attack ads against Verizon since the two companies started competing more directly against each other. (See Have You Heard About the Fiber? and Sir Charge!)
Verizon has squared off with cable companies in the court room for a number of other issues as well including patent infringement claims and has also lobbied the FCC to help it compete against cable. (See Verizon Asks FCC for FiOS Help, Verizon Sues Charter Over VOIP Patents, and Verizon Sues Cox.)
For your viewing pleasure:
— Raymond McConville, Reporter, Light Reading
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