The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announce that they will convene a joint public forum on November 4, 1999, to address the advertising and marketing of long-distance services, including dial-around services -- often called "10-10" numbers. The forum will provide an opportunity for government, industry, and consumer groups to discuss recent trends in how these long-distance services are advertised and what principles should guide industry advertising.
As a result of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 and long-standing FCC policies designed to foster competition in the long-distance telecommunications market, many companies are offering consumers a variety of choices in long-distance calling. While consumers benefit from being able to choose the particular service that best meets their long-distance needs, some consumers report being confused and often misled by the nature of the claims made by companies in their advertisements. New services, including "10-10" numbers and discount calling plans, are heavily promoted in prime-time TV commercials, in national newspaper and magazine campaigns, and through major direct mail promotions.
The FCC and the FTC have determined that a joint public forum would be an appropriate way to give interested individuals an opportunity to explore the issues raised by the advertising and marketing of these services. For example, participants at the forum will examine mock ads and will discuss whether the ads fail to adequately disclose the actual cost to consumers for using the services, or only reveal in fine print important information about additional fees or other charges.
The forum will convene at 8:30 a.m. on November 4th at FCC Headquarters at 445 12th Street, SW, Washington, DC, in the Commission Meeting Room. The morning session will focus on the current state of long-distance advertising, including dial-around services, as well as applicable law. The afternoon session will feature analysis, by panelists, of mock advertisements for long-distance services and a discussion about what can be done to ensure that ads for long-distance telephone service provide consumers with truthful information on which to make informed purchasing decisions.
The FTC vote to publish the Federal Register notice announcing the public forum was 4-0.
NOTE: Copies of the Federal Register notice announcing the joint public forum, the agenda, and other materials will be available from the FTC's web site at http://www.ftc.gov, the FCC's web site at http://www.fcc.gov and also from the FTC's Consumer Response Center, Room 130, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580; 877-FTC-HELP (877-382-4357); TDD for the hearing impaired 1-866-653-4261. To find out the latest news as it is announced, call the FTC NewsPhone recording at 202-326-2710.
(FTC File No. P974405)