Skip to comments.Fed 'do-not-call' list has papers nervous
Posted on 05/06/2002 9:09:29 AM PDT by NativeNewYorker
Telemarketing is an important way for newspapers and magazines to gather new subscriptions.
But if stricter regulations on telemarketing are adopted, the number of new subscriptions for newspapers and magazines could plunge.
The Federal Trade Commission is considering amendments to its telemarketing rules that would create a national do-not-call registry, and newspaper and magazine publishers are busy lobbying to ensure that their telephone salespeople are exempt from inclusion.
The do-not-call registry would allow consumers who enrolled to block most telemarketing calls.
Seeking the exemption are the Newspaper Association of America and the Magazine Publishers of America. According to the NAA, telemarketing generates 60 percent of new newspaper subscriptions, making it the single largest source of new subscribers.
Magazines are less reliant on telemarketing for new subscriptions, but the regulations would still take a serious bite.
Dan Capell, a magazine circulation expert, estimates that telemarketing is responsible for about 10 percent of new magazine subscriptions.
The NAA and the MPA have already submitted extensive comments to the FTC explaining their objections to the proposed do-not-call registry and are expected to participate in a forum on the registry at FTC headquarters in June.
In addition, the NAA is weighing what legal measures might be brought to challenge the constitutionality of a federal do-not-call list.
Dean Singleton, the recently inducted chairman of the NAA, argues that such a list would be unconstitutional as a restriction on free speech.
Says Singleton: "I'm certain it will be challenged."
Molly Hemsley, an NAA lobbyist, contends that as local businesses newspapers should not have to comply with national do-not-call regulations.
Hemsley points out that newspapers already observe many federal regulations with regards to telemarketing.
The FTC currently requires companies to maintain their own do-not-call lists shielding numbers from telemarketers for 10 years.
In addition, about 20 states have their own do-not-call registries. Of these, eight states have exemptions for newspapers.
To require that newspapers check their in-house and state do-not-call lists against a national list, Hemsley says, would impose an unnecessary burden to newspaper companies.
Further, she argues it would be unnecessary, since it is in a paper's best interest to not call people who have already expressed a do-not-call preference.
States that currently have do-not-call lists have received a strong response, despite not having the level of publicity that a national "do-not-call" list would likely have.
In Missouri, 41 percent of households have placed themselves on the do-not-call list. In Indiana, it's 38.5 percent, 30 percent in New York, and 29 percent in Tennessee.
The FTC national do-not-call would be free of charge, widely advertised and easy to use, and for that reason many believe the percentage of registrants would exceed the one-third level of the state lists.
John Morton, a newspaper analyst with Morton Research, says that imposing restrictions on telemarketing would take away an important source of revenue for newspapers.
"Most newspapers rely heavily on telemarketing to keep circulation up," he said. Revenue gained from circulation is an important support base when advertising declines," Morton says.
Magazines are no less anxious to gain exemption.
Rita Cohen, senior vice president of Legislative and Regulatory Policy for the MPA, said, "We are proposing alternative mechanisms that will provide consumer protection, but be easier for businesses to implement."
Cohen reported one example of a magazine contractor who generated seven million new subscriptions in 2000 through telemarketing.
Dan Capell, whose company, Capell & Associates, puts out the Capell Circulation Report, agrees that stricter regulations on telemarketing would hurt newspapers more than magazines.
"If somebody doesn't want to get called, they're probably not a good prospect to buy a magazine," Capell said.
Tightened regulations on telemarketing are not the only challenges newspapers and magazines have recently faced in marketing their publications.
Over the past few years, industry trends such as wholesaler consolidation have caused newsstand sales to decline. Whereas there were once about 400 independent wholesalers distributing magazines across the country, there are now only about 180.
Retailers, for their part, don't have shelf space for every one of the 4,000 consumer magazines, so they try to stock only a few magazine titles in each category. Again, the result is lower newsstand sales.
Moreover, the Publisher's Clearinghouse, a traditional source of new subscriptions, has been litigated nearly out of existence.
The regulations being proposed could mean the end of telemarketing as we know it.
Telemarketing businesses employ six million people and last year generated $668 billion in sales, according to numbers supplied by the Direct Marketing Association.
Telemarketing is the largest segment of direct marketing, accounting for approximately $76.2 billion of advertising expenditures last year.
The Direct Marketing Association keeps its own do-not-call list that currently contains 4.1 million numbers, though it is not widely advertised. It is possible to register by mail, or by paying a $5 processing fee to register online.
I guess that must explain it. I have never bought anything from those trolls and don't know anybody who does, but I assumed that they must see some return on their investment.
When a segment of society consistantly violates the civil behavior expectations of that society, those expectations will become law!
It is the height of bad manners to intrude in a household to sell something. Our society is quite specific; "A man's house is his castle!" If someone enters the "castle" without invitation or subpoena, he is guilty of trespass and will be expelled.
This is exactly what telephone solicitors are doing, trespassing. In an earlier time (within my memory) people would not think of using a telephone to intrude on and solicit a stranger. "No Solicitors" signs had taken care of the physical trespass and were later replaced by laws. The sentiment was understood to extend to telephones.
Now we have strangers trespassing into our homes every day by telephone because they want to coerce us into buying something. It is not up to us to accomodate their money making schemes. It is up to them to them to work within the rules of civilized behavior. Since they are not, it is once again time to hang out the "No Solicitors" sign.
Time to expell the trespassers. If it takes a law, they brought it onto themselves!
The irony was that I already subscribed to the paper in question, but within 48 hours, I changed that.
Anyone who buys anything from a telemarketer is asking for trouble; in addition to being obnoxious, and in many cases not having a command of the English language, they lie with impunity to make a sale.
OTOH, it's not the business of the government to stop them -- there are call-blocking techniques and services on the market that are quite effective, without big government sticking its nose into it, and setting up more bureaucratic jobs to monitor it, with the usual ineffectual results.
I saw an article a while back saying far-and-away the worst place to troll for phone sales was Gotham. I am doing my part to make sure they never dial a 212 again!
I like the way you think! BTW, I thought WI was starting a "Do Not Call" list. How do I sign up?
The Constitution does not anyone to provide you with an audience or a forum.
My method is to check the caller ID. If it says "unavailable", I quickly tilt the receiver in its cradle and put it down again. Works every time.
The Federal Trade Commission is considering amendments to its telemarketing rules that would create a national do-not-call registry, and newspaper and magazine publishers are busy lobbying to ensure that their telephone salespeople are exempt from inclusion.You know, given how strongly the media supported restrictions on other people's speech, fundraising, and advertising, this seems somewhat hypocritical of them. Guess it depends on whose ox.
Regradless, what part of "do not call" don't they understand? If people don't want to get called on their personal phones at home, and post a notice to that effect similar to a no solicitations sign at home, shouldn't that be clear enough? They think their vague "free speech" rights - as if selling a newspaper is speech - should trump my private property rights? Whatever.
Exceptions for newspapers? I can see it now, "Hi, I'm calling to see if you want a free subscription to the 'Replace Your Windshield and Get a Free Box of Steaks Times?'" Would you like a subscription? Do you have a cracked windshield? Our newsletter is for you!
Even at that, as soon as they start making exceptions for this there will be more. Who can say that the newspapers are a more worthy cause then public television? Not to mention the United Way's fundraising! And the Fireman's retirement fund, don't forget that!
The Constitution does not require anyone to provide you with an audience or a forum.
I couldn't disagree more. These people are committing what can be accurately described as "theft of service". When I'm talking to some bozo trying to pimp some product or service I might want, I can't make outside calls and I can't receive calls. This is stealing a service I pay for, for their own use. THEFT !
Secondly, they are invading privacy. The telephone is an interrupt device - you don't get calls when you feel like it, you get them when they are made. They interrupt you and demand your attention, even if you just let the phone ring.
Telemarketers are scum of the earth. They deserve no courtesy whatsoever, and I support any laws preventing them from their privacy invading, theft of service practices. If they're losing sales, TOUGH !
I have no problem with junk mail. I process it when I want, it takes but a few seconds per piece to scan for items of interest, the load in my garbage is trivial, and it doesn't invade my privacy.
I never, under any circumstances, do any business whatsoever with a telephone slutlicitor.
T'ain't free if it is involuntary on the part of the recipient.
If they want to pay me $5 every time they call, ok. Otherwise bleep 'em.
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