A federal court this week ordered Dish Network to pay $280 million in fines for violating telemarketing rules, including placing robocalls to numbers on the "do not call" list.
The decision is the latest step in a drawn-out case that began in 2009, when a Federal Trade Commission investigation determined that Dish violated FTC rules, which prohibit telemarketing calls to phone numbers on the National Do Not Call Registry. Dish disagrees with the ruling and intends to appeal it, Bloomberg reports.
The hefty fine was due in part to Dish's "reckless" use of third-party call centers that it did not vet for compliance with FTC rules, according to U.S. District Judge Sue Myerscough. Dish should have known that its contractors were illegally calling consumers to get them to sign up for TV packages, she said.
"Dish caused millions and millions of violations of the Do Not Call Laws, and Dish has minimized the significance of its own errors in direct telemarketing and steadfastly denied any responsibility for the actions of its [retailers]," Myerscough wrote in her decision.
Most of the fine will go to the federal government, with $112 million going to California, Illinois, North Carolina and Ohio, which were also plaintiffs in the case. Myerscough found that Dish's contractors made more than 16.2 million illegal calls to residents of those states, but declined to impose the maximum penalty of $500 per call, which would have resulted in an $8.2 billion fine that she called "excessive and in violation of due process."
While the decision does not prevent Dish from engaging in future telemarketing, it outlines specific restrictions the company must abide by to ensure that it does not violate the Do Not Call laws.
Dish disputed the court's findings. "Dish has long taken its compliance with telemarketing laws seriously, has and will continue to maintain rigorous telemarketing compliance policies and procedures, and has topped multiple independent customer service surveys along the way," the company told Bloomberg.