Tauzin May Delay Funding for FTC's DNC List

Rep. Billy Tauzin, R-LA, the House Energy and Commerce Committee chairman, held a briefing today to discuss congressional approval of funding for the national no-call registry.

Tauzin expressed concerns about the effectiveness of the list and asked whether funding could be approved on a trial basis, with a review after a set period of time to determine whether the list should be kept. He also asked about a possible legal challenge from the telemarketing industry that could cause a delay its implementation regardless of whether the committee approved funding.

Regulators also should keep in sight the effect the national no-call rules will have on the telemarketing industry as well, Tauzin said.

“It’s a two-edged sword,” he said of the FTC’s proposal. “This $650 billion industry isn’t going to go away because people don’t want to be called.”

Federal Trade Commission chairman Timothy Muris, whose agency announced its intention to create the registry last month, provided the sole testimony at the briefing. Telemarketing industry representatives were not invited to participate.

According to today's Washington Post and Bloomberg News, Tauzin wrote Muris late last month and said he may block the list's funding until his committee had “adequate opportunity to properly review and evaluate” the plan.

The FTC has said it will fund the creation and maintenance of the national do-not-call registry through fees paid by telemarketers for access to the list. But the FTC needs start-up funding from Congress to build the list's infrastructure. Creating the registry will cost $16 million, about three times greater than the initial estimate.

If Tauzin blocks the request for initial funding, the Post said money for the DNC list would probably not be available until the next fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1, so it would not be operational until 2004.

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