- The Commission has approved the amendment of a complaint against the following: Advanced Public Communications Corporation. The original complaint in this matter was issued as part of the law enforcement initiative called Project Biz-illion$, and concerned allegedly deceptive practices in the marketing and sale of payphone route business opportunities in violation of Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act and the Franchise Rule. The amended complaint: 1) adds James L. Bianco, Jr. as an individual defendant and as an officer of Advanced Public Communications; and 2) adds Michael Drucker's real name to the complaint caption and allegations (Drucker originally was identified by what is now known to be an alias - Michael Davis).
The Commission vote to amend the original complaint was 5-0. (File No. X000024; staff contact is Karen Leonard, 202-326-3597; see press release dated March 6, 2000.)
- The FTC has approved an application for a divestiture from the following: Exxon Mobil Corporation. The application concerns Exxon Mobil's divestiture of assets, as detailed in Paragraph X.B. of the proposed order in this matter. In the application, the company requested approval to divest Mobil's interest in the Trans Alaska Pipeline System (TAPS) to the Williams Alaska Pipeline Company, L.L.C., a wholly owned subsidiary of the Williams Companies, Inc.
The Commission vote to approve the application was 4-0, with Commissioner Thomas B. Leary recused. (FTC File No. 991-0077; Docket No. C-3907; staff contact is Daniel P. Ducore, 202-326-2526; see press release dated November 30, 1999.)
- Following the conclusion of a public comment period, the FTC has approved an application for proposed divestiture from the following: VNU, N.V. The application concerned VNU's request to divest its Competitive Media Reporting (CMR) Division to an entity owned and controlled by Taylor Nelson Sofres (TNS) p.l.c., a public limited company organized under the law of the United Kingdom. TNS, headquartered in London, is an international market research firm with two major areas of focus: television audience measurement and advertising expenditure measurement. The application was made pursuant to the Commission's order in Docket No. C-3900.
The Commission vote to approve the divestiture was 4-0, with Commissioner Thomas B. Leary not participating. (Docket No. C-3900; staff contact is Elizabeth Piotrowski, Bureau of Competition, 202-326-2623; see press release dated October 22, 1999.)
- The Commission has voted to publish a Federal Register notice announcing that the public comment period concerning the review of its Guides for the Household Furniture Industry ("Household Furniture Guides") has been extended to July 10, 2000. This time period has been extended due to the interest many pa.rticipants have expressed in submitting further comments. As detailed in the Federal Register notice, written comments should be sent to the Office of the Secretary, Federal Trade Commission, Room H-159, 600 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, Washington, D.C. and, if possible, also on a computer disk in a useable word processing format. Comments can also be sent via e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org. The Commission vote to publish the Federal Register notice was 5-0. (FTC File No. P007102; staff contact is Ingrid E. Whittaker-Ware, Southeast Regional Office, 404-656-1364.)
- The FTC has issued its Annual Report on the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). This report, which is available online at www.ftc.gov/os/statutes/fdcpajump.htm, summarizes the Commission's administration and enforcement of the FDCPA in 1999. The report presents an overview of the types of consumer complaints received by the Commission, a summary of the Commission's consumer and industry education initiatives, and summaries of the Commission's debt collection enforcement cases that became public in 1999. The report also contains five recommendations for amendments to the FDCPA that the Commission believes will improve the statute's clarity and effectiveness as a law enforcement tool.
The FDCPA prohibits abusive, deceptive and otherwise improper collection practices by third-party debt collectors. Since it was enacted in 1977, the FDCPA has required the Commission to issue a report to Congress each year.
While a federal statute that took effect in December 1999 removed that requirement, the Commission has chosen to continue the practice of issuing these annual reports because they effectively spell out the Commission's enforcement priorities and legislative recommendations to the public as well as to Congress.
The Commission vote to issue the report was 5-0. (FTC File No. P004811; staff contact is Thomas E. Kane, 202-326-3224.)
Copies of the documents mentioned in this release are available from the FTC's web site at http://www.ftc.gov and also from the FTC's Consumer Response Center, Room 130, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580; toll free: 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.