The U.S. government and four states sued Dish Network Corp on Wednesday, accusing the satellite television provider of assisting its authorized dealers in calling consumers with recorded telemarketing messages.
The marketing calls were made to some consumers who signed up for the Federal Trade Commission's national do-not-call registry to fend off unwanted sales pitches, the agency said.
Because a few bad actors still don't get it, we want to make it crystal clear. If you call consumers whose numbers are on the Do Not Call Registry, you're breaking the law, said Eileen Harrington, acting director of the FTC's consumer protection unit.
Dish Network said the company obeyed the law and should not be held responsible for violations by independent retailers.
An independent audit demonstrates that DISH Network is in compliance with 'do-not-call' laws, has proper controls in place, and is well within the safe-harbor provisions of the law, the Englewood, Colorado-based company said in a statement.
We also believe that the FTC is equating merely doing business with an independent retailer to 'causing' or 'assisting and facilitating' violations by that retailer, Dish Network said. We look forward to resolving these differences of opinion through the judicial process.
The FTC said the lawsuit was filed in federal district court in Springfield, Illinois and was joined by state attorneys general from California, Illinois, Ohio and North Carolina.
The federal lawsuit seeks to stop Dish from making the calls either directly or indirectly through its dealers, asks for unspecified civil penalties and asks that the company be required to enforce compliance with the do-not-call registry regulations. Two other related lawsuits were also filed against two of Dish Network's authorized dealers, the agency said.
The FTC's do-not-call registry became effective in 1995, allowing consumers to register their telephone numbers without charge. Telemarketers can access the registry via the Internet but are prohibited from calling the phone numbers.
Dish provides service to more than 13.7 million satellite television customers.
Federal Trade Commission v Dish Network, U.S. District Court, Central District of Illinois, No. 09-03073.
(Reporting by Julie Vorman; Editing by Derek Caney)