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The Yellow Pages industry is taking an aggressive stance in its fight against the San Francisco opt-in ordinance. The industry, led by the Local Search Association, has filed a motion for preliminary injunction to prevent the ordinance from taking effect. The industry filed its lawsuit challenging the ordinance in June.

The San Francisco ordinance was passed and signed into law in May of this year, despite a vigorous effort by the industry to defeat it. The ordinance will not take effect until next year, but the spectre of requirement that consumers actively request a print directory has reportedly put a severe cramp on print ad sales in a market already severely challenged by shifting consumer and advertiser preferences. This stands to reason, since a small business is unlikely to commit to a product that is likely to see its distribution dramatically curtailed in the coming year.

In announcing the filing of the motion for a preliminary injunction, the Local Search Association said, “The First Amendment does not permit the city to arbitrarily restrict the distribution of Yellow Pages out of a misguided belief that directories are less valuable than other media.”

The Yellow Pages industry seems confident that the San Francisco ordinance will have trouble withstanding a legal challenge on first amendment grounds.

The long-term impact of environmental legislation targeting print Yellow Pages is one likely topic in a wide-ranging discussion of the future of Yellow Pages planned for BIA/Kelsey’s DMS ’11 conference, later this month in Denver.

Tuesday, Sept. 20
2:00 pm – 2:45 pm
The Future of Yellow Pages
It’s been a challenging few years for the local medium most closely linked historically to the small-business advertiser. What does the future hold for Yellow Pages? Are any of the strategic overhauls taking place around the industry working? Can publishers successfully reinvent themselves as local SMB agencies? We’ve assembled a panel of industry thought leaders to assess the state of the Yellow Pages medium and its near-, mid- and long-term outlook.
Neg Norton, President, Local Search Association
Scott Pomeroy, CEO, Yellow Pages Group, New Zealand
David Sharman, Senior VP and Chief Strategy Officer, Dex One
Moderators:Neal Polachek and Charles Laughlin

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