A group of radio broadcasters has filed Joint Comments asking the FCC to reject a Petition that would require senders of all telephone calls and text messages that use autodialer or artificial voice/prerecorded technology to obtain written prior express consent from recipients. The Petition, if granted, would directly affect commercial and non-commercial radio and television stations.

Under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), a recipient gives “prior express consent” to receive calls when the recipient provides his or her telephone number, unless he or she also gives instructions to the contrary. Currently, the FCC’s rules require senders to obtain written prior express consent only for autodialed or artificial voice/prerecorded calls that specifically contain marketing or advertising. The Petition asks the FCC to extend the written prior express consent rule to all autodialed and artificial voice/prerecorded calls and texts – not just to those that contain marketing or advertising. This would mean that alert text messages and other autodialed or artificial voice/prerecorded calls about emergencies, weather, traffic, news, school closings, and follow-ups to contests and promotions, would require written prior express consent. For public broadcasters, calls regarding donation reminders and programming information could be affected.

The radio broadcaster group argues that express consent can be obtained not just in a written form but when a person affirmatively acts, such as by providing a telephone number during a transaction. The broadcasters believe the proposed change would hinder their ability to use modern technology to send important informational messages that listeners and viewers expect. They also believe that imposing a written requirement now would confuse audiences, especially those who have already given their consent.

The FCC has issued a Public Notice setting a March 27, 2017 deadline to submit reply comments to the Petition.