Negotiations Continue on Fax Bill

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The Senate is still negotiating a bill that would create an existing business relationship exemption for commercial faxers.

A spokesman for Sen. Gordon Smith, R-OR, said he is hopeful that the Senate will approve the bill by unanimous consent -- an expedited process for passing routine legislation -- in the next two weeks.

Starting July 1, the Federal Communications Commission is to begin requiring commercial faxers to get written permission before sending any fax ads, regardless of any existing business relationship, or EBR.

For years previously, the FCC had said that companies and nonprofits could send commercial faxes to current customers, members and donors. The about-face stems from an FCC decision in 2003 that, contrary to its previous stance, the wording of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act does not support an EBR exemption.

Several state courts also have ruled that the TCPA doesn't support the exemption and have ruled against commercial faxers in civil litigation.

Smith's bill, SB 714, would put the EBR exemption into law. In addition, a spokeswoman for the FCC has said that the agency is considering delaying the rule change in light of the pending legislation and could decide in the next week or two.

The FCC's delay in implementing the ruling -- which has been put off twice before -- could help commercial faxers. Last year, the House of Representatives passed a bill similar to SB 714, but no such companion bill has been introduced in the current session of Congress.

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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