Informercial groups, McCollum reach agreement

John O'Brien May 31, 2007, 1:00pm

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Advertising groups charged with misrepresenting sponsorships by companies like Microsoft and Home Depot recently settled charges with the Florida Attorney General's office.

Attorney General Bill McCollum says Platinum Television Group and New Line Media Solutions will change their business practices as a result of the settlement, announced Wednesday, as well as pay $100,000 in restitution to current clients with existing complaints.

Also made available will be $75,000 to resolve consumer complaints filed 30 days after the settlement agreement was made official.

McCollum says the companies produced infomercial-style shows that were aired on television, and potential clients were solicited by what the companies called "creative directors."

In actuality, McCollum alleges, the creative directors were salespeople who persuaded businesses to sign contracts with the companies. Businesses were told that for approximately $20,000, short ads featuring the businesses would be produced and inserted into Platinum's programming.

McCollum's investigation determined that Platinum and New Line falsely claimed Microsoft and Home Depot sponsored their products, and also falsely announced the participation of advisory boards consisting of members from places like Massachusetts Institute Technology and Harvard's Business School.

Platinum and New Line will be prohibited from identifying their salespersons as creative directors or imply that they are responsible for the creative content of any production. They also can not boast the use of advisory boards unless it actually happens.

Also, the companies will pay the State restitution for its investigation.

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