Explained: Dish Network Agrees to Pay $210 Million in Robocall Settlement

Explained: Dish Network Agrees to Pay $210 Million in Robocall Settlement

The settlement was announced Friday by California Attorney General Xavier Becerra who, two days later, was announced by the Biden-Harris administration as its pick as Secretary of Health and Human Services. 

Dish Network is already dealing with a high-profile dispute with local TV station owner Nexstar, which has led to the largest TV station blackout in U.S. history.

Now, the same company has settled a lawsuit from the government over local robocalls, one that dates back more than a decade.

The suit, originally filed in 2009, has been settled by Dish for $210 million, with the federal government as well as four states. The states are California, North Carolina, Ohio, and Illinois, and they had alleged that Dish made unwanted robocalls to people who were listed in the Do Not Call Registry. The calls numbered in the millions, per Reuters.

According to Reuters, $126 million of the settlement went to the federal government, while the other $84 million went to those states.

The settlement was announced Friday by California Attorney General Xavier Becerra who, two days later, was announced by the Biden-Harris administration as its pick as Secretary of Health and Human Services. 

“Unwanted telemarketing calls are a nuisance and can be an illegal invasion of privacy,” Becerra said in the announcement of the settlement. “Californians have the power to join the Do Not Call list to avoid harassing calls. Unfortunately, Dish Network flouted the rules and now they will pay.”

“Robocalls are more than a nuisance; these calls cost people time and money,” Kwame Raoul, the attorney general of Illinois, said in his own statement. “Today’s settlement holds Dish accountable for placing millions of illegal calls and violating the privacy of consumers. It should also serve as a warning to other bad actors who attempt to profit off this illegal and invasive practice.”

“While we respectfully disagree with the underlying liability judgment, which involves telemarketing calls made between 2003 and 2011, this matter is now resolved,” Dish said in a statement, per the Reuters report. 

The plaintiffs had been awarded $280 million in 2017, which was later appealed, leading to the settlement. 

The federal Do Not Call Registry was created in 2003, as a result of an act of Congress, and customers were able to sign up for the registry that same year. 

After losing massive numbers of video subscribers in the first half of 2020, including 400,000 in the first quarter and 96,000 in the second, Dish as a company managed to gain 116,000 net subscribers in the third quarter. The Dish service did lose 87,000 subscribers in the third quarter, while its Sling TV service added 203,000 subscribers. The company also posted $4.53 billion in revenue in the third quarter. 

Dish also announced earlier this fall that it is discontinuing the Slingbox, one of its legacy products.

Stephen Silver, a technology writer for the National Interest, is a journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.

Image: Reuters