Dish Network fined $280 mn for DNC Registry violations and privacy breaches of US consumers

Satellite television giant Dish Network has been ordered to pay $280 million in penalties for violations of the National Do Not Call Registry laws and privacy breaches of US consumers, the US justice department said yesterday.

A federal judge in Illinois, this week, held the Colorado-based Dish Network liable for the telemarketing violations by third-party call centres hired by the satellite TV company.

According to US district judge Sue E Myerscough of the Central District of Illinois, who presided over a five-week trial, Dish knew, or should have known, that its actions were illegal.

''Dish's reckless decision to use anyone with a call center without any vetting or meaningful supervision demonstrates a disregard for the consuming public,'' Myerscough wrote in a 475-page opinion issued on Monday.

She added that the $280-million penalty, which, according to the US justice department, was the largest ever for telemarketing violations, was appropriate. ''Dish caused millions and millions of violations of the Do Not Call Laws, and Dish has minimised the significance of its own errors in direct telemarketing and steadfastly denied any responsibility for the actions of its [retailers],'' the judge wrote.

California will receive $53.25 million of the award as many of the people called were California residents who had listed their telephone numbers with the do-not-call registry, California attorney general Xavier Becerra said.

Myerscough also prohibited the company from further violations of the do-not-call laws and imposed a 20-year plan for supervision of its telemarketing.

A company spokesman said, it disagreed with the ruling and will appeal.

Dish was sued by the US and four states in 2009 over violation of two consumer telemarketing laws for making 55 million illegal calls, but the case did not go to court until January 2016. The US demanded $900 million in fines, while the states sought over $110 million. According to Nicole Navas Oxman, a justice department spokeswoman, the fines imposed by the judge were the largest-ever in a robocall case.