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This is an unofficial announcement of Commission action. Release of the full text of a Commission order constitutes official action. See MCI v. FCC. 515 F 2d 385 (D.C. Circ 1974).
Statement of FCC Chairman William E. Kennard on the Joint FCC/FTC Policy
Today I am pleased to announce that we have followed through on the commitment we made to consumers last November to put an end to misleading and deceptive advertising for long-distance and dial-around services. We have joined with the FTC to provide common sense guidance to industry on what is acceptable advertising.
The new guidelines ensure that consumers will not get the run around on dial-around. Five-cents a minute is fine, but hiding five-dollars a month in the fine print is not.
We are issuing today a policy statement adopted by both the FCC and the FTC that establishes basic principles for truthful advertising. These principles can be described with four simple words:
Additionally, we are also undertaking a consumer education effort based on this policy statement. This follow-up to our Market Sense initiative informs consumers about how to watch, read and listen to advertising for long-distance services so that they reap the benefits of the competitive telecommunications market we are creating.
Our Truth-in-Advertising initiative, which has led to this policy statement, enjoys wide support from consumer groups, represented here today by AARP. I would like to particularly recognize the Rev. Kenneth B. Smith, one of their board members who is here from Chicago to underscore just how important this issue is to consumers, as well as the National Consumer League, TRAC, major long-distance providers, and NARUC, our state partners in consumer protection.
I also am very pleased to announce that the Federal Communications Commission's Enforcement Bureau yesterday entered into a consent decree with MCI/Worldcom regarding MCI's marketing and advertising practices for its dial-around services. The consent decree obligates MCI/Worldcom to conform its dial-around marketing practices to principles similar to those outlined in the policy statement released today.
This policy statement is a critical step in protecting the core rights of consumers in the competitive market which we have worked so hard to create. Together with truth in billing and freedom from slamming and cramming, it ensures that consumers will have the knowledge they need to select the carrier of their choice and be fairly charged for the services they use.
We are taking a critical step in promoting a competitive market. This policy statement puts all carriers on equal footing with respect to advertising practices. It protects carriers who do not engage in misleading advertising practices from losing customers to those who do. The FCC stands ready to take enforcement action against carriers that engage in the kind of misleading practices described in the policy statement.
I want to thank Chairman Pitofsky and his staff for their considerable expertise and guidance in developing this policy statement. By working with each other and with the states in implementing this policy statement we will ensure consumers get the information they need to make sense of the market.
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