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News Analysis
DIRECTV, Now You're Lying!
By Swanni

Washington, D.C. (October 30, 2011) -- DIRECTV last week filed a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission, charging Fox with being untruthful in the companies' ongoing dispute over programming fees.

But now DIRECTV has been caught in a lie -- and it's designed to make its subscribers think their bills will rise by 40 percent if the satcaster agrees to Fox's demands to carry roughly two dozen Fox cable networks including FX, the Fox Movie Channel and 19 regional sports channels.

In a new video posted at DIRECTV's web site, OurPromisetoYou.com, DIRECTV CEO Mike White tells his subscribers that News Corp, Fox's owner, "wants you to pay 40 percent more for the exact same channels you watch today." (The video was also posted this weekend on DIRECTV's on-screen guide.)

But here's the problem with that statement: It's not true.

News Corp., and Fox, have not requested DIRECTV's subscribers pay 40 percent more, as White says. But they have requested DIRECTV to pay News Corp. "40 percent more." (The exact amount is in dispute. DIRECTV says 40 percent; Fox says that's inaccurate.)

DIRECTV CEO Mike White forgets the truth in his message to subscribers.

The difference is vast. A subscriber's bill is based on all the channels he has ordered, not just the Fox cable networks, which might represent less than 10 percent of the subscriber's lineup. So even if DIRECTV wound up paying Fox 40 percent more, subscriber bills wouldn't suddenly rise 40 percent. DIRECTV might raise the price of a monthly programming package by a few percentage points to cover the extra costs, but it certainly wouldn't be anywhere close to 40 percent.

But White clearly has purposely left the impression that the average DIRECTV subscriber will see a 40 percent increase in his bill if DIRECTV accepts Fox's demands. This was done to  reduce customer anger if DIRECTV decides not to pay and take the two dozen Fox channels off the air on November 1, the deadline for agreeing to a new deal.

White is hoping that subscribers won't get upset -- and/or switch to another TV provider -- if they believe that Fox is trying to raise their bills by 40 percent. If DIRECTV can divert subscriber anger onto Fox, then it's easier to keep its customers on board.

It may be a smart strategy, but it's still a lie.

What do you think? Offer your comments below!

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