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DISH Networks booth - CES 2015
Dish’s telemarketers allegedly failed to heed no-call lists, and the satellite-TV provider may be fined up to $24 billion, a sum larger than the company’s current market value.

The US Department of Justice (DOJ) is seeking $900 million in civil penalties, according to a report by Ars Technica. Four states — Ohio, Illinois, California, and North Carolina — want fines that would total more than $23 billion. Dish’s market capitalization is $22 billion. A judge has already ruled that Dish and its contractors made 55 million calls that violated federal law by using recorded messages, Ars reported. They also are accused of calling people who added their phone numbers to no-call lists, created to provide consumers a means to shield themselves from telemarketers.

A trial will decide whether Dish is liable for the conduct of its contractors and whether Dish managers knew they were breaking the law. Dish spokespeople responded to the requested fines by saying the company was shocked by the fine amounts. They noted the fines were far larger than those requested in similar cases.

What’s telling about all this is, yes, some telemarketers ignore the no-call restrictions, as many of us suspected. But the good news is someone in the government is actually doing something about it.

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