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Newspaper to pay fine for violating state 'do not call' list rule

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Newspaper to pay fine for violating state ‘do not call’ list rule

  • Twenty Philadelphia residents filed a complaint with the state attorney general’s office; each is to receive $25.

Oct. 28, 2003 — The New York Post agreed last week to settle a case for violating Pennsylvania’s “Do-Not-Call” law. Under the state’s Telemarketer Registration Act, which went into effect Nov. 1, 2002, it is illegal for telemarketers to solicit people who registered with the state’s do-not-call registry.

According to Barbara Petito, deputy press secretary for the Pennsylvania attorney general’s office, 20 Philadelphia residents who are listed on the registry complained that telemarketers from NYP Holdings Inc. called them in February 2003. The telemarketers were contracted by the Post to sell newspaper subscriptions.

“Whoever is calling has to be calling on a list . . . that is in compliance with the state law,” Petito said.

Under the law, it is also illegal for callers to withhold their name and phone number from people’s caller-ID systems. Petito said NYP Holdings blocked its information from people’s caller-IDs, although it remains unclear why the Post‘s telemarketers violated the law.

Said Suzi Halpin, a spokeswoman for the Post, “It was an unfortunate situation involving an outside contractor. We will fully comply with the terms of the agreement.”

Under the settlement agreement, NYP Holdings Inc. entered into an “Assurance of Voluntary Compliance,” in which it admitted to no wrongdoing, and agreed to pay the fine and comply with the Do-Not-Call law in the future. Petito said NYP Holdings Inc. will pay the fine because it was acting as the Post. In addition, each of the 20 residents who filed complaints with the attorney general’s office is entitled to receive $25, a percentage of the civil penalties obtained in the legal action.

Pennsylvania’s state Do-Not-Call law is separate from the Federal Communications Commission and the Federal Trade Commission’s efforts to have a national do not call law.

The national registry, with 53.7 million telephone numbers registered so far, has been in effect since Oct. 7, when the U.S. Court of Appeals in Denver (10th Cir.) ruled that the FTC should enforce the law pending a ruling by the court on its constitutionality — whether the law discriminates between commercial and charitable phone solicitations, which are not subject to the law. The Federal Trade Commission says it has already received more than 37,000 complaints from people who allege they were called by a telemarketer since adding their name to the national registry.


© 2003 The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press

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