DirecTV, Comcast fined for violating call rules

Fri, 04/17/2009 - 8:45am
Jennifer C. Kerr, The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) – Satellite television provider DirecTV Inc. and cable company Comcast Corp. will pay out a combined $3.2 million to settle claims that they broke the law by placing phone calls to people who had asked the companies not to call them again. It's the second time DirecTV has been hit with such a fine.

The Federal Trade Commission made the announcement Thursday.

The FTC said DirecTV agreed to pay $2.3 million to settle charges that it violated do-not-call provisions of a restriction called the Telemarketing Sales Rule by having a telemarketer call people who had specifically asked DirecTV to put them on the company's internal do-not-call list. In 2005, DirecTV settled FTC charges that telemarketers called households listed on the national Do Not Call registry and paid $5.3 million to the government.

Comcast will pay out $900,000, the FTC said, to settle charges that it called people who had specifically asked the company to stop calling them. The agency said it's a violation of that telemarketing rule, which prohibits such calls.

"In both of these cases, DirecTV and Comcast violated consumers' privacy by calling people who specifically had asked these companies not to call them again," said FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz. "What makes DirecTV's actions especially troubling is that it is a two-time offender."

Calls to the companies were not immediately returned.

Last month, the FTC sued the nation's second-largest satellite TV provider – Dish Network – for alleged violations of the federal Do Not Call registry (story here). The government accused Dish Network of making thousands of phone calls to people on the list, and said it is the biggest violator to date based on the number of complaints to the agency – more than 20,000.

Dish Network, based in Englewood, Colo., has denied the allegations.

Since the registry began in 2003, the FTC has brought more than 40 cases against companies for violations.

More than 167 million phone numbers are on the registry, which prohibits telemarketers from calling numbers on the list. Companies face fines of up to $16,000 for each violation.

Organizations engaged in charitable, political or survey work are exempt. Companies that have an established business relationship with a customer also may call for up to 18 months after the last purchase, payment or delivery.

More Broadband Direct 04/17/09:
•  Time Warner Cable shelves some Internet cap plans
•  DirecTV, Comcast fined for violating call rules
•  YouTube boosts full-length movies, TV show lineup
•  Broadcom: 1st to win DOCSIS 3.0, EuroDOCSIS certification
•  Verizon still shopping for acquisitions
•  Harmonic to debut ProView 7000 at NAB
•  Verizon releases developer specs for LTE
•  Google's search for savings boosts Q1 profit 9%
•  Toshiba expects bigger loss, contract job cuts
•  Verizon files suit over fiber outage
•  Broadband Briefs for 04/17/09




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