Effective relationship and communications management with lawmakers, regulators and the public is a critical responsibility for any trade association and is one that the Direct Marketing Association takes very seriously. That is why we think it’s important to respond to Scott Hovanyetz’s article “FCC Ruling Highlights Rift in Strategies Between ATA, DMA” (July 7) to highlight some salient points about our statements and strategies on do-not-call that were not addressed.
While the launch of a highly publicized, national do-not-call registry was a tough pill to swallow, things could have been a lot worse. The DMA worked tirelessly to mitigate the negative consequences of what had become a political inevitability.
The DMA filed a lawsuit in federal court to stop the Federal Trade Commission’s proposed program. In fact, our lawsuit against the FTC was on a number of grounds — including the constitutional argument — making it more viable as the case is reviewed for summary judgment and for if and when the case goes to appeal.
The DMA maintained all along that we would prefer a national do-not-call system to be administered by the private sector. We continuously pointed out that we have run our own highly effective do-not-call program since 1985 and at much lower cost to marketers than the federal government had proposed.
Your readers should have little doubt that we fought tooth and nail to prevent this program from burgeoning — but at a certain point we had to accept the reality of this situation. Recognized by lawmakers in Washington and state capitals across the nation as the authoritative voice for legitimate telephone marketers, we had to face this situation with utmost maturity and reason.
We petitioned the federal government to create a do-not-call program without glaring loopholes, unfair applicability and, most importantly, a program that would create one universal list, not a hodgepodge of conflicting state and federal laws.
The only way to ensure this was for the Federal Communications Commission to step in, as it did June 26. Its action not only assured that there is a national standard for do-not-call laws, but also postponed mandating compliance with key technological rules, such as requiring telemarketers to transmit a call-back number on caller-ID sets, the more immediate implementation of which would have created further hardships for the industry.
We are confident that our approach not only averted what would have been a much greater hardship for our members, but also has set the groundwork for necessary cooperation with regulators and lawmakers as life in the post-do-not-call world continues. We will vigilantly protect our industry by being intelligent and reasonable in our work.
Michael L. Faulkner, Senior vice president, segments & affiliates, Direct Marketing Association