FTC Touts Court Decision Against Dish

The Federal Trade Commission Wednesday (Jan. 21) put a spotlight on a Dec. 12, 2014 Illinois district court ruling that Dish was liable for tens of millions of calls made by subcontractors that violated the FTC's Do Not Call, entity-specific and abandoned call restrictions on telemarketers.

The decision was responsive to a suit filed on behalf of the FTC by the Justice Department back in 2009.

In a press release on its web site, the FTC said the court had found that Dish was liable for over four million calls that it or its vendors made to numbers on the Do Not Call registry. The court found an additional million-plus calls violated the entity-specific provision, which were calls to people who had said previously they did not want to be called again.

The court also found that Dish or its agents abandoned some 49 million calls, which means hanging up on people or keeping them waiting for long periods of time.

There are other issues that remain to be resolved, according to the FTC. A trial is scheduled to begin in July 2015.

Dish fired back at the court and the FTC.

“DISH respectfully disagrees with the bulk of the decision by the Court," the company said in a statement. “DISH has implemented rigorous telemarketing compliance policies and procedures, and has topped multiple independent customer service surveys along the way. DISH has taken its compliance with telemarketing laws seriously."

“This litigation has revealed that the FTC, on the other hand, has outsourced the management of the National Do Not Call Registry to contractors, with minimal oversight, resulting in a Registry that is inaccurate and that the U.S. Government itself characterizes as ‘a mess.’ Unfortunately, while the FTC acknowledges its own failures regarding the maintenance of the Registry, it nonetheless attempts to hold American businesses to a different standard."

“The U.S. Government is also seeking to hold DISH responsible for telemarketing activities alleged to have been conducted by independent third-parties, including in circumstances where such third-parties were intentionally hiding their telemarketing efforts from DISH. DISH looks forward to defending itself in Court.”

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.