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Advertising for WebTV System - FTC Finalizes Order - News Brief.
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NOTE: This website is where you can find advertising law information based on news briefs that appeared in past issues of Advertising Compliance Service, "Your Single Essential Advertising Law Resource," during the month of December 2000.



FTC finalized the consent agreement with WebTV Networks, Inc. (WNI). WNI is a marketer of Internet access devices. Earlier, it had agreed to settle FTC charges that advertising for the WebTV system was deceptive, in violation of federal law. The now-finalized consent order--

  • Bars WNI from making deceptive ad claims about the performance capabilities of the WebTV system,
  • Requires clear and conspicuous disclosure of long distance telephone toll charges that some consumers may incur while using WebTV, and
  • Requires reimbursement to certain former WebTV Internet service subscribers for long distance charges they incurred in the past.

The consent agreement also calls for a consumer education campaign--to be carried out in major magazines, in retail stores and on the World Wide Web. That education campaign is intended "to inform consumers about how to determine the advantages and disadvantages of using Internet access devices as compared to computers," FTC said. Specifically, WebTV Networks, Inc. will launch a two-part consumer education campaign to include ads in Good Housekeeping, Modern Maturity and Newsweek magazines. The firm will make available a consumer brochure called "Getting Online: Using Internet Access Products" at retail locations that sell WebTV and on WNI's own Web site.

(WebTV Networks, Inc., FTC File No. 972 3162, December 12, 2000; see also, Advertising Compliance Service(TM), Tab #15, New Media, Article #102.)

NOTE: A consent agreement is for settlement purposes only and does not constitute an admission of a law violation. When the Commission issues a consent order on a final basis, it carries the force of law with respect to future actions. Each violation of such an order may result in a civil penalty of $11,000.




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