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Tue, Sep 30, 2003 - Page 12 News List

Telemarketers say they will honor `no-call' list

WILL OF THE PEOPLE Sensing a public relations disaster, a US association of direct marketing companies said they will not call listed consumers

REUTERS , WASHINGTON

The Direct Marketing Association said it will honor the US government's "do not call" list even though it has been blocked by two federal court rulings, The Washington Post reported yesterday.

Direct Marketing Association president Robert Wientzen said the association's largest members had agreed to voluntarily stop calling the 50 million phone numbers on the national registry which was to take effect on Oct. 1, the newspaper reported.

"We will honor the list the best we can," Wientzen was quoted as saying in a telephone interview.

"Although we believe this is an inappropriate role for the government, we don't want to catch the American consumer in our cross-fire," Wientzen was quoted as saying. "We believe we should honor their wishes."

According to the newspaper, the group's decision was made after a conference call on Saturday with more than 200 of its largest members.

A spokesman for the association could not be reached for comment early yesterday.

Telemarketing firms have been fighting the list created by the US Federal Trade Commission, saying it infringes their free speech rights under the US Constitution. The government contends that commercial speech such as telemarketers' is entitled to less protection.

A US appeals court said on Friday it would likely approve the anti-telemarketing measure that two lower courts had blocked earlier in the week.

The appeals panel said that while telemarketers will be harmed by the no-call list, which would deny them millions of sales prospects, that concern is outweighed by the privacy interests of the tens of millions of Americans.

A a federal court in Oklahoma City said the Federal Trade Commission lacked authority to run the list and another court in Denver struck it down again on free-speech grounds.

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