DirecTV (opens in new tab) may be in the midst of an ambitious early rollout of local HD broadcast stations, with a goal of eventually providing hundreds of local offerings to their subs in the respective markets, but it's getting double-whacked this week with large fines for various infractions such as marketing.
According to an announcement by the Attorney General's Office for New York, the Empire State and 21 states started their investigation in March 2003, based upon widespread consumer complaints that: advertised programs were not always viewable; sports programs in DirecTV's "Sports Package" were sometimes blacked out; all local programming was not available as advertised; many subscribers got poor reception; and that DirecTV's cancellation policies were unfair and often buried in tiny print.
The attorneys general settlement of about $5 million will be made in the form of rebates to customers, in some instances, as well as fines paid to the affected states.
Also, in a separate case announced within a 24-hour period on Dec. 13, DirecTV reportedly agreed to settle for $5.335 million with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission for alleged violations of the federal Do Not Call List. The FTC said it is the largest civil penalty ever obtained in a consumer protection case, according to the agency's Web site.
The DBS firm apparently was not making the cold calls itself, but had hired outside marketers to sell their services, which are beginning to include local HD broadcast stations in a handful of markets
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