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Google, iHeartMedia settle charges of deceptive Pixel 4 ads with FTC, U.S. states

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The U.S. Federal Trade Commission and seven U.S. states reached a settlement with Alphabet Inc’s (GOOGL.O) Google and iHeartMedia Inc (IHRT.O) over allegations of deceptive ads promoting Google’s Pixel 4 smartphone, the FTC said.

the FTC said in a statementon Monday that the companies aired nearly 29,000 deceptive endorsements by radio personalities promoting their use of and experience with Google’s Pixel 4 phone in 2019 and 2020.

The allegations were settled by the companies, who agreed to pay $9.4 million in penalties, the FTC said.

“Google and iHeartMedia paid influencers to promote products they never used, showing a blatant disrespect for truth-in-advertising rules,” FTC official Samuel Levine said.

In 2019, Google hired iHeartMedia and 11 other radio networks in 10 major markets to have on-air personalities record and broadcast endorsements of the Pixel 4 phone, according to the FTC.

The seven states to join the FTC were New York, Arizona, California, Georgia, Illinois, Massachusetts and Texas.

The ads ran in English and Spanish and allegedly violated consumer protection laws, the FTC and the seven states said.

Google and iHeartMedia did not immediately respond to a request for comment

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A woman takes a look on the new Google Pixel 4 smartphone displayed during a Google launch event in New York City, New York, U.S., October 15, 2019. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz/File Photo

Signage is seen at the Federal Trade Commission headquarters in Washington, D.C., U.S., August 29, 2020. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly/File Photo