The federal government and four states are suing satellite television provider Dish Network for violating laws regarding the national Do Not Call registry.
The Federal Trade Commission on Wednesday said Dish Network has been calling consumers on the Do Not Call list, either directly or through marketing dealers working on its behalf, to promote its services since 2003.
The agency also said the company's "robocalls," or automated messages, are in violation of the federal Telemarketing Sales Rule. The agency's complaint was filed jointly with attorneys general from California, Illinois, Ohio, and North Carolina.
"Because a few bad actors still don't get it, we want to make it crystal-clear," Eileen Harrington, acting director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection, said in a statement. "If you call consumers whose numbers are on the Do Not Call registry, you're breaking the law."
The government is seeking a permanent injunction against Dish Network, prohibiting it from violating robocall and Do Not Call restrictions, and requiring that it monitor the marketing dealers it works with to prevent future violations. It is also seeking monetary civil penalties for every Telemarketing Sales Rule violation.
Dish Network said it has not violated the law and should not be held responsible for Do Not Call violations made by other companies.
"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 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, which creates a strict liability standard that does not exist in the law and was not intended by Congress."
The government is also filing complaints against two of the marketing dealers with which Dish works, Vision Quest and New Edge Satellite, for allegedly calling consumers on the Do Not Call list.
The FTC filed similar complaints against two other Dish Network partners in 2008--Planet Earth Satellite and Star Satellite. Those charges were settled, with the companies paying a total of $95,000 in penalties.