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Judge stops DirectTV high-definition TV ads

PHILADELPHIA — A federal judge in Illinois ordered DirecTV Group Inc., the nation’s largest satellite TV provider, to stop running ads that claim consumers and home-theater installers prefer the quality of satellite’s high-definition TV over cable’s.

Comcast Corp., the nation’s largest cable TV operator, asked the court in July for a preliminary injunction. DirecTV and Comcast are suing each other, each claiming the other has either skewed HD-TV survey results or promoted studies that are unreliable.

District Court Judge John F. Grady in Chicago said in an order Wednesday that, pending trial, DirecTV must stop using ads in any Comcast territory that tout the installers’ survey from last December as well as the April 2006 TNS Consumer Survey.

The judge did allow Comcast to continue running its HD-TV ads publicizing a survey in which satellite TV customers said they preferred Comcast’s HD picture quality over satellite TV’s. He also ordered Comcast to post a $500,000 bond.

DirecTV said in a statement that it was “perplexed” by the court’s order.

“The facts simply don’t support these decisions. We will appeal these rulings and are confident we will ultimately prevail,” the company said last week.

The satellite TV operator also said it has already stopped running the ads.