DMA, ATA Support Call-Abandonment Safe Harbor

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The American Teleservices Association and the Direct Marketing Association issued a joint statement yesterday in favor of a proposal to ease abandoned-call rules and overturn a currently suspended rule that could block prerecorded-message telemarketing.

The ATA and DMA submitted comments to the Federal Trade Commission in support of a proposal to bring the FTC's rules in line with less-restrictive rules enforced by the Federal Communications Commission. In the past, the DMA and ATA have not presented a unified front on telemarketing issues, particularly the national no-call list.

The FTC is looking at measuring call-abandonment rates on a monthly basis, as the FCC does, rather than on a daily basis. Telemarketers are required to maintain abandoned-call rates below 3 percent of all outbound calls.

The FTC also is considering changing its rules so that prerecorded calls to existing customers would not be considered abandoned calls. The FTC's abandoned-call rules effectively ban prerecorded calls, but the rules have never been enforced and the FTC suspended them in November for review.

In their statement, the ATA and DMA said no evidence existed that the 30-day abandonment standard was being abused or that it wasn't reducing abandoned calls as intended. In addition, the two trade groups said that prerecorded-message telemarketing gives small businesses a cost-effective way to contact existing customers.

In early 2004, the DMA decided to drop its court challenge to the no-call list, while the ATA took its case to the Supreme Court. In October, the Supreme Court declined to review the case.

Scott Hovanyetz covers telemarketing, production and printing and direct response TV marketing for DM News and To keep up with the latest developments in these areas, subscribe to our daily and weekly e-mail newsletters by visiting


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