FTC Seeks Up to $55 Million in Fed Court Ruling Against ITV Direct
By Jacqueline Renfrow ( firstname.lastname@example.org)
BEVERLY, Mass. — In mid-July, U.S.
District Court Judge George O’Toole Jr.
ruled that two infomercials produced by
ITV Direct Inc. and Direct Marketing
Concepts, commonly owned by Donald
Barrett, were deceptive. The Federal
Trade Commission (FTC) is asking for
up to $55 million in restitution from
the companies for advertising that their
herbal supplements cured cancer.
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The FTC alleged that Barrett and six
other parties violated the FTC Act with
deceptive claims made on the infomercials for Coral Calcium Daily, produced
by Direct Marketing Concepts Inc., and
Supreme Greens with MSM, produced
by ITV Direct Inc.
In the ruling, the FTC won on six
of eight counts against the defendants,
while the other two counts remain undecided. The first two counts were in regards to the Coral Calcium infomercial
and ITV’s Web site. The third accused
the defendants of reporting that medical
journals supported the suggestion that
calcium could cure cancer. Other counts
were in regard to the Supreme Greens
with MSM infomercial and its claims.
ITV’s attorney Michael Sciucco suggested in a written statement that the
company may be willing to settle on the
two remaining counts involving charges
that the “talk show” format of the ads
and the company’s automatic shipping
program violate federal regulations.
“We are disappointed with the
court’s decision,” says Sciucco. “
However, as the case began over four years ago,
the best thing for our customers and the
company is to put this dispute behind us
once and for all.”
The products first came under
scrutiny in 2004 and, soon after, the
FTC won a preliminary injunction
that forced ITV and Direct Marketing
Concepts to pull the ads, one of which
featured infomercial pitchman and
long-time FTC target Kevin Trudeau.
In a counter move, Barrett then filed a
suit against the FTC claiming his right
to freedom of speech, but O’Toole dismissed that suit.
Just weeks after the ruling, ITV Ventures laid off 56 employees. The Better
Business Bureau has received 1,570
complaints about Direct Marketing
Concepts in the past three years.
The judge has not yet set a date for a
hearing on restitution in the case.