FTC, Wellco Settle on Deceptive TV Antenna Ads

Skylink TV antenna ad
(Image credit: Wellco)

WASHINGTON—A settlement has been reached between the Federal Trade Commission and Wellco Inc. and its owner and CEO George M. Moscone on the charge that Wellco sold indoor TV antennas and signal amplifiers to consumers using deceptive claims that the products would allow them to cut the cord and still receive their favorite channels for free.

Per the FTC, Wellco violated the FTC Act by making deceptive performance claims for their OTA television antennas and related signal amplifiers, using deceptive consumer endorsements and misrepresenting some of their web pages as news reports about antennas.

Wellco began marketing and selling indoor TV antennas and amplifiers to consumers in 2017 under the TV Scout, SkyWire, SkyLink and Tilt TV brand names. The FTC says that they sold more than 800,000 antennas and more than 272,000 amplifiers.

“The defendants used every trick in the book to sell their antennas and amplifiers to people, including older adults, who wanted to save money on cable and satellite TV channels,” said Daniel Kaufman, acting director,  FTC Bureau of Consumer Protection. “People should be able to trust the claims companies make, not discover after buying that they were told lies.”

Among the claims Wellco made with the products, the FTC alleges, were that users could stop paying for cable or satellite TV subscriptions and still receive all of their favorite TV channels; that a substantial portion of users receive more than 100 premium channels in HD; they enable consumers to receive more channels than most other TV antennas on the market; and that they were the top rated indoor HDTV antennas in America. In addition, Wellco also claimed their amplifiers substantially increased the number of stations received with their antennas and that by using both consumers could receive HBO and AMC.

Under the terms of the settlement, Wellco would be prohibited from making claims about any product’s rating, ranking or superiority to other products; the channels users will receive; or any material aspect of a product’s performance, efficacy or central characteristics, unless the claims are true and substantiated. The company is also prohibited from making any misrepresentation through a product endorsement, that a website is an objective news report or that independent tests demonstrate the effectiveness of a product.

The proposed order also called for a $31.82 million judgement against Wellco. However, the judgement will be suspended upon the defendants’ payment of $650,000 to the FTC, based on their inability to pay the full judgement.

The settlement was unanimously approved by the FTC.