Cable Companies Ask the FCC for a Break on Robocalls
Public Policy Fellow
The National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA), a lobbying group for the cable companies, has asked the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to let them off the hook for violating robocalls rules from October 16, 2013 to October 7, 2015.
In July, the FCC granted several groups, including the Direct Marketing Association, an exemption from important robocall rules during that two-year period. These groups complained to the FCC that the rules about obtaining prior written consent for telemarketing robocalls were confusing – and the FCC agreed. They granted them an exemption for the consent requirement from the day the rules went into effect until 89 days after the FCC clarified the rules.
Now, cable companies are piggybacking on the DMA’s request and asking for the same exemption. While the expiration date for the exemption has already passed, FCC approval could still end up being a windfall for the cable companies, because it will protect them from expensive lawsuits over violations that took place during that period.
This new request from the cable companies is one of the latest attempts to chip away at important robocall protections. For example, earlier this week, President Obama signed into law a federal budget bill that allows debt collectors to robocall cell phones. The provision is directed to consumers holding federal debt, like education debt and tax debt, but affects others, too, like relatives, references, and those with phone numbers reassigned from people holding that debt.
It’s important to maintain strict robocall requirements, and to hold companies accountable to them. To push back against the cable companies’ request, you can file comments with the FCC. Click here for instructions on filing the comments – they’ll be accepting comments on the original petition until December 3.
And, to stop debt collectors from robocalling cellphones, please contact your Senators!