I read with interest a San Francisco city spokesperson’s comments about our recent filing for a preliminary injunction against the city’s Yellow Pages ordinance. The city spokesperson claimed to be “puzzled” why we would seek emergency relief from the court since the ordinance doesn’t go into effect for another nine months.
We don’t find it surprising that the city would be puzzled by our filing because, since the introduction of this legislation, no one at City Hall has taken time to understand how our industry works and the services we offer the community. In our view, the city spokesperson’s comments only further demonstrate the city’s lack of knowledge about our business and the drastic impact of the ordinance.
Here are some fundamental reasons why filing now is the only way to ensure that Yellow Pages directories can be delivered to consumers next year:
- The San Francisco District Court is a very busy court. We’ve been advised by the court that a hearing on our motion won’t be held until January 12, 2012. But the ordinance is already having a strong and negative impact on our industry, even though it does not take effect until next May.
- Small business owners – who our industry relies on to support the publication of directories – have to make decisions today on whether to advertise in Yellow Pages directories coming out next year. This new uncertainty of whether there will be a directory, and how and to whom it will be distributed, is confusing local businesses and limiting their commitment to advertising in the next directory.
- Publishers have to make decisions now on potential alternate distribution methods – or whether to publish at all. The impact of high-cost distribution and the potential for a shrunken advertising base may cause some publishers to leave the San Francisco market altogether, leaving advertisers and consumers without a vital platform to find one another.
- Already, at least two Yellow Pages salespersons have quit their jobs because of uncertainties over whether the industry can survive in San Francisco. In fact, one former employee took a lower paying job – something unheard of in today’s tough economy – to make sure he didn’t end up unemployed.
We believe we have a strong case for the U.S. District Court – one that has real merit and immediate consequences. We look forward to what we hope will be a quick and favorable decision.