Any TV set made since 2007 has a digital tuner that lets you watch over-the-air (OTA) channels for free, if you get an inexpensive indoor antenna. These channels usually include local broadcast channels, including high-definition or “HDTV” signals. But an OTA antenna won’t get you free “premium” channels, which you can only get from cable, satellite, or online content services. Don’t believe an OTA antenna ad that says it can. Today the FTC announced that it sued a company for allegedly lying about the performance of its indoor antennas and signal amplifiers. The company sold products under the TV Scout, SkyWire, SkyLink, and Tilt TV brand names. Its antenna ads claimed that people could stop paying for cable or satellite TV and still get all of their favorite TV channels, including premium channels. That was simply not true, the FTC says. The company’s ads for amplifiers—in English and Spanish—claimed that people could use those with its antennas to get even more stations, including premium or subscription channels, like HBO and AMC, for free. The FTC says that these ads were also false. The FTC also said that some of the ads were made to look like “news reports,” and some of the consumer endorsements were made up. Before you cut the cord and buy an OTA antenna and related products, remember:

  • Read the FCC’s tips about TV antennas and getting good reception.
  • Only trust news reports about a product when they come from a credible news source, and on its own website or news feed.
  • When you look at an online endorsement or review, think about where it’s posted and what you know about who wrote it. Some endorsements and reviews are fake or misleading. It can be hard to tell them apart from the real ones, so it’s better to check several sources. And expert reviews from trusted websites are a good way to go.

If you spot a problem, report it to the FTC at ReportFraud.ftc.gov.

by Rosario Méndez
Attorney, Division of Consumer and Business Education, FTC
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