Seattle Latest to Look at Phone Book Restrictions

yp-stackFresh from successfully defeating a strict opt-out bill in California, the Yellow Pages industry is now lobbying members of the Seattle City Council to prevent it from passing some form of restriction on Yellow Pages distribution.

The City Council is weighing a variety of options in addressing what it sees as wasteful phone book distribution. The options range from doing nothing and trusting the industry will improve its self-regulation, to implementing an opt-in or opt out program, and even to charging publishers a fee for each book it distributes in order to offset the cost of recycling the directories.

The option the council seems to favor is to contract with a local non-profit called CatalogChoice, which would act as a clearing house for opt-out requests for direct mail, catalogs and Yellow Pages directories. This option might also include an ordinance requiring publishers to honor opt-out requests that come through this channel.

With the notable exception of an ordinance passed last year in Albany, New York, the U.S. Yellow Pages industry (an alliance of the Yellow Pages Association and the Association of Directory Publishers) has been able to successfuly fight off these efforts using the argument that it can police itself. Similar arguments are being made in Seattle, where the incumbent publisher, DexOne, does have one of the industry’s more advanced opt-out programs in the form of Select Your Dex.

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