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Group Says It Has Cut Unwanted Calls

Direct Marketing Assn. holds to its refusal to give the FCC a copy of a 'do-not-call' list.

October 04, 2003|From Bloomberg News

The Direct Marketing Assn., a trade group that represents telemarketers, said Friday that it had reduced unwanted calls to consumers by 90% even as it refused to supply a copy of the Federal Trade Commission's "do-not-call" database of 51 million phone numbers to the Federal Communications Commission.

The group, whose board includes executives at AOL Time Warner Inc., Citigroup Inc. and Yahoo Inc., sent a letter to the FCC saying it would cooperate with the agency without providing the phone list. The association said the FTC had raised the possibility of penalties for anyone who shared the list when it testified before a Senate committee Tuesday.

A federal judge in Denver barred the FTC, which had compiled the list, from sharing the registry after he declared the program unconstitutional last week. The FCC, which says its own do-not-call rules weren't affected by the court decision, had asked the marketing group to hand over the list and the names of telemarketers who have it to help enforce the program.

"We strongly support voluntary compliance," H. Robert Wientzen, the president of the trade group, said in the letter, posted on the group's Web site. "However, we continue to believe that the FTC list is flawed by important constitutional defects, and that the continuation of litigation is necessary."

FCC Chairman Michael K. Powell, in a letter to Wientzen on Friday, said the agency disagreed with the group's reasoning for not supplying the database and asked Wientzen to reconsider.

Companies are allowed to provide "any data" in the registry for "compliance with the provisions of the FTC and FCC regulation of telemarketing or otherwise to prevent telephone calls" to numbers on the list, Powell wrote. Handing over the list would help the FCC and the association in "achieving our common goal of ensuring respect for consumer preferences," Powell wrote.

Direct Marketing Assn. spokesman Louis Mastria said the group's attorneys would review the legal issues raised by Powell. Powell said this week that the FCC could enforce its rules if telemarketers knowingly called numbers on the list.

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