DirecTV “likely to win” $4bn FTC legal action

Judge Haywood Gilliam has “paused” a trial taking place in California between the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and pay-TV operator DirecTV. The FTC is claiming that DirecTV made unjust gains in its subscriber promotions and alleged false advertising, and that some 33 million subscribers signed up for DirecTV services without being clearly aware of the actual end-result costs.

However, the judge has expressed dissatisfaction with the mathematics in the FTC claim, and said there were “substantial issues” in the lawsuit.

The trial had been running for two weeks, and the halt came following the evidence of a University of San Francisco economics professor Daniel Rascher, who appeared on behalf of the FTC. Prof. Rascher had calculated the loss to subscribers – and hence the $4 billion claim.

According to legal web-site Law360, AT&T’s lawyers questioned the professor on whether he had surveyed any actual customers in order to determine whether any customers were actually deceived by the DirecTV advertising.

AT&T’s lawyers, in a statement, said that they had always believed the action was without merit.

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