FCC Silent on Criticism of No-Call Enforcement

The Federal Communications Commission yesterday declined to respond to comments by American Teleservices Association executive director Tim Searcy that the agency's enforcement of its company-specific no-call rules is a decade late.

Searcy was reacting to the FCC's Nov. 3 announcement that it would seek $780,000 in fines against long-distance provider AT&T on a complaint that it made 78 telemarketing calls to 29 consumers who had asked the company to cease calling. The FCC allegations are related to its company-specific no-call rules, which have been on the books since 1992, and not the national no-call list that launched last month.

According to the FCC, the complaint against AT&T was the first time it had filed an enforcement action under its old telemarketing rules. That statement is significant because it suggests that the government, which claims the company-specific rules never worked, never tried to make them work, Searcy said.

The ATA is challenging the national no-call list in federal court and is scheduled for an oral hearing Nov. 10 before the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Tulsa, OK. One of its arguments is that the government began the no-call list without trying to make the less-restrictive company-specific rules a success.

“By their own admission, they never bothered to enforce the company-specific [system],” Searcy said. “If they had, would we even be at the point we are today?”

Though the FCC declined comment when asked for a response by DM News, in its rulemaking issued in July that enacted the national no-call list and other new regulations the FCC claimed that the company-specific no-call rules no longer worked because of the increase in the volume of telemarketing calls. Consumers have trouble keeping track of and identifying telemarketing callers, the FCC said.

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