WASHINGTON (AP) – Federal regulators are proposing their first major penalty against a company for violating the “do not call” rules for telemarketers: a $780,000 fine against AT&T.

The Federal Communications Commission accused AT&T of making 78 phone calls to 29 consumers who asked telemarketers to leave them alone. The proposed fine would cost the company $10,000 for each call.

“Today’s enforcement action demonstrates our resolve in the fight to protect consumers from unwanted and intrusive telephone calls,” FCC Chairman Michael Powell said.

AT&T said in a statement that the charges involve “claims by customers who believed they were on an AT&T-specific list and received a call they think was from AT&T.”

The fine is based on alleged violations of FCC rules requiring companies to keep their own list of people who have said they do not want to be called with sales pitches.

It is separate from the do not call list maintained by the Federal Trade Commission.

“We set a very high priority on respecting do-not-call requests and have even urged our customers to sign up for the FTC do-not-call list,” the company said.

More than 53 million numbers have been placed on the list, which took effect Oct. 1. It is intended to block about 80 percent of telemarketing calls, with exemptions for charities, pollsters and calls on behalf of politicians. A company also may call people on the list if it recently has done business with them.

On the Net:

FCC: http://www.fcc.gov

AP-ES-11-03-03 1404EST

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