The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) is a consumer protection statute aimed at shielding a consumer’s privacy by restricting telemarketing calls, junk faxes and the use of automated dialing equipment. News Media Alliance is engaged on this issue at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and on Capitol Hill because we must ensure the ability of publishers to communicate with their subscribers and non-subscribers with a prior business relationship with the newspaper. Today, newspapers rely on telemarketing for 20% of all new subscriptions and 26% of all subscription sales.
Over the years, the telemarketing industry has filed petitions with the FCC seeking clarifications to the TCPA in response to a proliferation in private lawsuits seeking statutory damages for violations of the Act. On June 18, the FCC responded to these petitions with an order that is pro-consumer with negative implications for telemarketers. The order includes prohibitions on autodialers (including texts), equipment that has mere capacity to be an autodialer, and a “safe harbor” for calling a previously pre-authorized number that has been re-assigned. These clarifications are not flexible enough to allow for many legitimate business communications without fear of litigation.
News Media Alliance is a member of Professional Association for Customer Engagement (PACE) and is participating in a telemarketing coalition led by the Chamber of Commerce’s Institute for Legal Reform. Both groups are currently challenging the FCC’s recent telemarketing decision and both cases have been consolidated in the DC Circuit Court. Last week, News Media Alliance joined both groups in sponsoring a Senate briefing to educate Members of Congress and their staff on recent developments under the TCPA, including the FCC’s decision and the importance in distinguishing between abusive telemarketers and companies contacting their consumers.
News Media Alliance will continue to be advocate on behalf of members to achieve the right balance between consumer interest and practical business operations with the hope of achieving a sound public policy resolution on this matter.
For more information, please contact Danielle Coffey, vice president of public policy.