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Marketing research groups intervene in court challenge to FCC’s telephone rules

The two trade associations representing the nation’s largest marketing, media and opinion research firms, filed briefs Thursday to intervene in the court challenge to the Federal Communications Commission’s new mobile telephone rules.

In the motion filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C.Ccircuit, the Marketing Research Association and the Council of American Survey Research Organizations, argue that the FCC’s rules go too far and raises the level of risk for the research industry especially since more than 60 percent of households are now mostly or only reachable via mobile phone.

The FCC updates to the Telephone Consumer Protection Act issued in July give consumers more control over who gets to call their cell phone numbers, but it also broadens the definition of autodialers used by research firms to conduct surveys and market research. The rules make no exceptions for caller intent.

“If the court rules in our favor, we could walk away with a more constrained autodialer definition and an applicable human intervention test — both of which could be major points of relief for the research industry,” said Diane Bowers, CASRO president.

The two groups also seek relief from a growing number of class action litigation suits over reassigned cell phone numbers. Under the FCC’s rules, research firms would be allowed to make only one call to a number that has been reassigned.

MRA and CASRO members include hundreds of marketing and opinion research firms including Nielsen, Gallup, NPD Group, Kantar, as well as colleges, universities and companies such as Eli Lilly.

ACA International, Sirius XM Radio, and the Professional Association of Customer Engagement petitioned the court to oppose the FCC’s rules. The cases were recently consolidated in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.