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Enforcement Bureau fines Qwest for apparent DTV violation

The FCC Enforcement Bureau said Sept. 12 telecommunications carrier Qwest is apparently liable for a forfeiture of $51,000 for “willfully and repeatedly” failing to provide some Lifeline customers with notices regarding the Feb. 17, 2009, DTV transition in their monthly bills or bill notices.

In February, the commission took a variety of steps to raise the general public’s awareness level of the upcoming DTV transition, including issuing rules requiring eligible telecommunications carriers (ETCs) to notify their Lifeline and Link-Up customers about the transition in their monthly bills or bill statements.

For Lifeline and Link-Up customers who don’t receive paper versions of their bill or bill notice, ETCs were required to provide monthly notices in whatever medium they send their billing information. Alternately, ETCs were permitted to send monthly paper mailers. The commission specified the exact wording ETCs must use — at a minimum — in their DTV notices and the duration of notice requirement — April 30, 2008, through March 2009.

After receiving a letter of inquiry from the commission regarding its compliance with the requirement, Qwest stated customers in its central and western regions who receive online bills did not receive the notice. According to Qwest, it failed to do supply the notice to about 8500 Lifeline and Link-Up customers in May, June and July. While telling the commission it had corrected the situation beginning with its August bills, Qwest did not offer an explanation for failing to comply.

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