• Infomercialist Will Appeal $48 Million Fine
  • September 16, 2009
  • Law Firm: Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP - Los Angeles Office
  • Donald Barrett, a prolific infomercialist who owns ITV Ventures and Direct Marketing Concepts, announced that he is appealing a $48 million Federal Trade Commission fine for airing deceptive and misleading informercials.

    "I have every reason to believe that we will prevail," Barrett wrote on his blog, "I have every reason to believe that the outrageous amount of the judgment will not stand."

    The FTC sued Barrett’s companies in 2004 over infomercials for two products – Coral Calcium and Supreme Greens with MSM – that included claims the products cured cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and Parkinson's disease, and helped people lose weight.

    FTC public affairs specialist Betsy Lordan said the federal ruling was fair. "It's his right to appeal, but the bottom line is we're happy," she said.

    In addition to the hefty fine, the court ruling also bans Barrett from making any claim about the health benefits, performance, or efficacy of any product without scientific evidence, and bans him from misrepresenting any scientific study.

    Barrett says he will keep pumping out the infomercials. "I currently have over 20 infomercials on the air and I will continue to produce more and more in the future," he wrote. "These infomercials are undisputed by the FTC and unaffected by the court's decision."

    Why it matters: Although Barrett, like any advertiser, is free to exercise his free-speech right to promote his products, he must do so in a way that is not misleading or fraudulent. He crossed the line, according to the court and the FTC. Yet the considerable fine speaks to how profitable Barrett’s infomercials are, despite how dubious the claims may seem on their face – and in fact are.