The penalty is the largest ever imposed under Connecticut's four-year-old state law that lets consumers block most unwanted solicitations, a Department of Consumer Protection official said Wednesday.
State records show 16 verified complaints lodged against the newspaper from January 2001, when the law took effect, through 2003. Richard E. Maloney, the agency's director of trade operations, said some of the Courant's telemarketers were using phone lists that had not been matched against the state's no-call list, which contains about 1 million numbers.
Maloney said the calls were "human error" but that the newspaper failed to stop them after being warned by the state.
Vivian Chow, the Courant's vice president for human resources and corporate affairs, said the newspaper since hired a company to remove names from its telemarketing list. She said the last complaint came in March 2004.
"We did violate the law," she said. "Have we made mistakes? Absolutely."
The Courant paid the penalty in September and agreed to a cease-and-desist order. Under the agreement, the newspaper does not admit wrongdoing.
Chow said the Courant averages about 70,000 phone contacts a month.
Two other companies were also penalized for "no-call" violations. ADT/Home Life Security, a subsidiary of Tyco International Ltd., was penalized $25,000, while Miss Cleo, a New Orleans psychic that also uses the name Access Resource, was assessed $20,000.
The penalties were divulged to members of the General Assembly, but not made public. The Courant reported the penalty in its Thursday editions after a reader who saw the report to the General Assembly contacted the newsroom.
By: (AP) The Hartford Courant has paid a $36,000 civil penalty to the state after it was accused of making telemarketing calls to consumers on the state's "no-call" list.