The Federal Trade Commission is suing satellite television provider Dish Network for violating the Do Not Call Registry, alleging that company telemarketers kept calling consumers even after being specifically asked not to do so.
According to the FTC complaint filed in U.S. District Court for the Central Dis"rict of Illinois yesterday, Dish telemarketers since September 2007 have placed "millions of outbound telephone calls to phone numbers of persons who have previously stated that they do not wish to receive an outbound telephone call made by or on behalf of DISH Network."
The FTC asked the court to grant injunctive relief and monetary penalties, which could, in theory, total billions of dollars. Under Section 5 of the FTC Act, the court can award penalties of up to $11,000 for each violation of the FTC's Telemarking Sales Rule that occurred before Feb. 9, 2009, and $16,000 for each violation thereafter.
"We have vigorously enforced the Do Not Call rules and will continue to do so to protect consumers' right to be left alone in the privacy of their own homes," said FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz in a news release. "It is particularly disappointing when a well-established, nationally known company — which ought to know better — appears to have flagrantly and illegally made millions of invasive calls to Americans who specifically told DISH Network to leave them alone."
It's not the first time Dish Network has run afoul of the Do Not Call list. In 2009, the Department of Justice at the FTC's request sued Dish, along with the attorneys general of California, Illinois, Ohio, and North Carolina.
The government alleged that Dish or its authorized dealers called numbers on the Do Not Call Registry and by placed telemarketing calls that delivered prerecorded messages to live consumers. Dish is represented by Kelley Drye & Warren in that case, which is currently in discovery.
According to the FTC, information from the first case was used to bring the new case, which the FTC said is intended to stop the illegal calls and obtain civil penalties.
Dish spokesman John Hall said that the Englewood, Colo.-based company "respectfully disputes the merits of the complaint filed by the Federal Trade Commission. We manage our marketing practices to best-in-class standards....Notably, the FTC was recently denied the ability to assert these same claims by a federal court in another contested matter, and we will defend ourselves vigorously against them."