47 U.S. Code § 274 - Electronic publishing by Bell operating companies
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No Bell operating company or any affiliate may engage in the provision of electronic publishing that is disseminated by means of such Bell operating company’s or any of its affiliates’ basic telephone service, except that nothing in this section shall prohibit a separated affiliate or electronic publishing joint venture operated in accordance with this section from engaging in the provision of electronic publishing.
(b) Separated affiliate or electronic publishing joint venture requirements
A separated affiliate or electronic publishing joint venture shall be operated independently from the Bell operating company. Such separated affiliate or joint venture and the Bell operating company with which it is affiliated shall—
(2) not incur debt in a manner that would permit a creditor of the separated affiliate or joint venture upon default to have recourse to the assets of the Bell operating company;
(3) carry out transactions
(B) pursuant to written contracts or tariffs that are filed with the Commission and made publicly available, and
(4) value any assets that are transferred directly or indirectly from the Bell operating company to a separated affiliate or joint venture, and record any transactions by which such assets are transferred, in accordance with such regulations as may be prescribed by the Commission or a State commission to prevent improper cross subsidies;
(5) between a separated affiliate and a Bell operating company—
(A) have no officers, directors, and employees in common after the effective date of this section; and
(6) not use for the marketing of any product or service of the separated affiliate or joint venture, the name, trademarks, or service marks of an existing Bell operating company except for names, trademarks, or service marks that are owned by the entity that owns or controls the Bell operating company;
(7) not permit the Bell operating company—
(B) to perform the purchasing, installation, or maintenance of equipment on behalf of a separated affiliate, except for telephone service that it provides under tariff or contract subject to the provisions of this section; or
(8) each have performed annually a compliance review—
(A) that is conducted by an independent entity for the purpose of determining compliance during the preceding calendar year with any provision of this section; and
(9) within 90 days of receiving a review described in paragraph (8), file a report of any exceptions and corrective action with the Commission and allow any person to inspect and copy such report subject to reasonable safeguards to protect any proprietary information contained in such report from being used for purposes other than to enforce or pursue remedies under this section.
(c) Joint marketing
(1) In general
Except as provided in paragraph (2)—
(A) a Bell operating company shall not carry out any promotion, marketing, sales, or advertising for or in conjunction with a separated affiliate; and
(2) Permissible joint activities
(A) Joint telemarketing
A Bell operating company may provide inbound telemarketing or referral services related to the provision of electronic publishing for a separated affiliate, electronic publishing joint venture, affiliate, or unaffiliated electronic publisher: Provided, That if such services are provided to a separated affiliate, electronic publishing joint venture, or affiliate, such services shall be made available to all electronic publishers on request, on nondiscriminatory terms.
(B) Teaming arrangements
A Bell operating company may engage in nondiscriminatory teaming or business arrangements to engage in electronic publishing with any separated affiliate or with any other electronic publisher if
(i) the Bell operating company only provides facilities, services, and basic telephone service information as authorized by this section, and
(C) Electronic publishing joint ventures
A Bell operating company or affiliate may participate on a nonexclusive basis in electronic publishing joint ventures with entities that are not a Bell operating company, affiliate, or separated affiliate to provide electronic publishing services, if the Bell operating company or affiliate has not more than a 50 percent direct or indirect equity interest (or the equivalent thereof) or the right to more than 50 percent of the gross revenues under a revenue sharing or royalty agreement in any electronic publishing joint venture. Officers and employees of a Bell operating company or affiliate participating in an electronic publishing joint venture may not have more than 50 percent of the voting control over the electronic publishing joint venture. In the case of joint ventures with small, local electronic publishers, the Commission for good cause shown may authorize the Bell operating company or affiliate to have a larger equity interest, revenue share, or voting control but not to exceed 80 percent. A Bell operating company participating in an electronic publishing joint venture may provide promotion, marketing, sales, or advertising personnel and services to such joint venture.
(d) Bell operating company requirement
A Bell operating company under common ownership or control with a separated affiliate or electronic publishing joint venture shall provide network access and interconnections for basic telephone service to electronic publishers at just and reasonable rates that are tariffed (so long as rates for such services are subject to regulation) and that are not higher on a per-unit basis than those charged for such services to any other electronic publisher or any separated affiliate engaged in electronic publishing.
(e) Private right of action
Any person claiming that any act or practice of any Bell operating company, affiliate, or separated affiliate constitutes a violation of this section may file a complaint with the Commission or bring suit as provided in section 207 of this title, and such Bell operating company, affiliate, or separated affiliate shall be liable as provided in section 206 of this title; except that damages may not be awarded for a violation that is discovered by a compliance review as required by subsection (b)(7) of this section and corrected within 90 days.
(2) Cease and desist orders
In addition to the provisions of paragraph (1), any person claiming that any act or practice of any Bell operating company, affiliate, or separated affiliate constitutes a violation of this section may make application to the Commission for an order to cease and desist such violation or may make application in any district court of the United States of competent jurisdiction for an order enjoining such acts or practices or for an order compelling compliance with such requirement.
(f) Separated affiliate reporting requirement
Any separated affiliate under this section shall file with the Commission annual reports in a form substantially equivalent to the Form 10–K required by regulations of the Securities and Exchange Commission.
(g) Effective dates
Any electronic publishing service being offered to the public by a Bell operating company or affiliate on February 8, 1996, shall have one year from February 8, 1996, to comply with the requirements of this section.
(h) “Electronic publishing” defined
(1) In general
The term “electronic publishing” means the dissemination, provision, publication, or sale to an unaffiliated entity or person, of any one or more of the following: news (including sports); entertainment (other than interactive games); business, financial, legal, consumer, or credit materials; editorials, columns, or features; advertising; photos or images; archival or research material; legal notices or public records; scientific, educational, instructional, technical, professional, trade, or other literary materials; or other like or similar information.
The term “electronic publishing” shall not include the following services:
(C) The transmission of information as part of a gateway to an information service that does not involve the generation or alteration of the content of information, including data transmission, address translation, protocol conversion, billing management, introductory information content, and navigational systems that enable users to access electronic publishing services, which do not affect the presentation of such electronic publishing services to users.
(E) Data processing or transaction processing services that do not involve the generation or alteration of the content of information.
(F) Electronic billing or advertising of a Bell operating company’s regulated telecommunications services.
(H) The provision of information necessary for the management, control, or operation of a telephone company telecommunications system.
(I) The provision of directory assistance that provides names, addresses, and telephone numbers and does not include advertising.
(K) Repair and provisioning databases and credit card and billing validation for telephone company operations.
(M) Any other network service of a type that is like or similar to these network services and that does not involve the generation or alteration of the content of information.
(N) Any upgrades to these network services that do not involve the generation or alteration of the content of information.
(i) Additional definitions
As used in this section—
(1) The term “affiliate” means any entity that, directly or indirectly, owns or controls, is owned or controlled by, or is under common ownership or control with, a Bell operating company. Such term shall not include a separated affiliate.
(2) The term “basic telephone service” means any wireline telephone exchange service, or wireline telephone exchange service facility, provided by a Bell operating company in a telephone exchange area, except that such term does not include—
(A) a competitive wireline telephone exchange service provided in a telephone exchange area where another entity provides a wireline telephone exchange service that was provided on January 1, 1984, or
(3) The term “basic telephone service information” means network and customer information of a Bell operating company and other information acquired by a Bell operating company as a result of its engaging in the provision of basic telephone service.
(4) The term “control” has the meaning that it has in 17 C.F.R. 240.12b–2, the regulations promulgated by the Securities and Exchange Commission pursuant to the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (15 U.S.C. 78a et seq.) or any successor provision to such section.
(5) The term “electronic publishing joint venture” means a joint venture owned by a Bell operating company or affiliate that engages in the provision of electronic publishing which is disseminated by means of such Bell operating company’s or any of its affiliates’ basic telephone service.
(6) The term “entity” means any organization, and includes corporations, partnerships, sole proprietorships, associations, and joint ventures.
(7) The term “inbound telemarketing” means the marketing of property, goods, or services by telephone to a customer or potential customer who initiated the call.
(8) The term “own” with respect to an entity means to have a direct or indirect equity interest (or the equivalent thereof) of more than 10 percent of an entity, or the right to more than 10 percent of the gross revenues of an entity under a revenue sharing or royalty agreement.
(9) The term “separated affiliate” means a corporation under common ownership or control with a Bell operating company that does not own or control a Bell operating company and is not owned or controlled by a Bell operating company and that engages in the provision of electronic publishing which is disseminated by means of such Bell operating company’s or any of its affiliates’ basic telephone service.
(10) The term “Bell operating company” has the meaning provided in section 153 of this title, except that such term includes any entity or corporation that is owned or controlled by such a company (as so defined) but does not include an electronic publishing joint venture owned by such an entity or corporation.
Source(June 19, 1934, ch. 652, title II, § 274, as added Pub. L. 104–104, title I, § 151(a),Feb. 8, 1996, 110 Stat. 100.)
References in Text
The Securities Exchange Act of 1934, referred to in subsec. (i)(4), is act June 6, 1934, ch. 404, 48 Stat. 881, as amended, which is classified principally to chapter 2B (§ 78a et seq.) of Title 15, Commerce and Trade. For complete classification of this Act to the Code, see section 78a of Title 15 and Tables.