At the request of the Federal Trade Commission, a Texas district court
judge has ordered a halt to the allegedly bogus claims of End70 Corp.
According to the commission, the company pitches a 'one-fee, turn-key, get-rich-quick' Internet business via, among other things, infomercials on various cable nets.
Judge David C. Godbey ordered the company to stop making the disputed claims and ordered the commission to review scripts for any future telemarketing pitches.
The FTC Web site (www.ftc.gov/opa/2003/07/itc.htm) says that the judge ordered the FTC to review infomercial scripts, but an FTC lawyer working on the case said that it was telemarketing scripts, not infomercials, that were being pre-screened, though she had not seen the scripts.
An FTC Washington spokesmwoman later confirmed the mixup and promised to correct the Web site.
Whether telemarketing or infomercial scripts, the ad industry is generally wary of anything that smacks of prior restraint on commercial speech.
Still, one ad industry attorney was not overly concerned, taking a narrow reading of the Judge's instruction as applying to the specific facts of this case rather than a general instruction.
For its part, the FTC was not comfortable in the role of script reader.
Calling the request 'very unusual,' FTC Dallas attorney Deborah Dawson said: 'We were not thrilled. We don’t regard that as the sort of thing that we do. That is why private litigants and advertisers have attorneys. We’re a small agency and don’t have the staff.'
The FTC did review the scripts, though, had concerns, and the companies offered to modify them.
Responding to the judge’s order, the companies have already modified the two existing cable infomercials, which FTC says have aired on Comedy, FX, Outdoor Life, Speed Channel, The Learning Channel and Travel, among others.
Those revised ads began airing June 12.