OPINION: In The Dominion Post on January 22, Green MP Gareth Hughes shared his thoughts on the delivery of phone books to New Zealand homes and asked that change be considered.
Mr Hughes made some valid points, many of which we agree with. What most Kiwis and Mr Hughes do not know is that this is something we have been actively working on for some time now and we expect to be able to announce positive changes very soon
We have been talking with the Ministry for Communications and Information Technology about an array of options, investigating how Kiwis use our books, and assessing options for change.
Most New Zealanders probably don't realise that Yellow Pages Group is under contract to provide White Pages directories to New Zealand homes. This comes from the Telecommunications Service Obligation, a historic agreement between Telecom and the Crown. When Telecom sold Yellow Pages, that became an obligation we owe to Telecom.
My view is simple – that our job as Yellow is to move with the times and do whatever we can to help Kiwis find the information they want, wherever, whenever and however they're searching, be that online, mobile or via a book.
The way we connect is evolving and people are changing how they search for information.
At the same time, we're transforming our business to connect New Zealanders in their homes or businesses.
It's about getting the balance right and any changes will have a big impact on those who rely heavily on our books.
I'm aware not all New Zealanders have internet access or a computer or are technologically minded. Right now, for a farmer on the East Cape, for example, it might be quicker to grab a book than wait for dial-up to connect.
Other people simply prefer the printed book.
In fact, the reality is that each week, 840,000 Kiwis use the White Pages a total of two million times.
The figures for the online version are about half that, but are growing, as you might expect.
We do have contractual obligations to Telecom and to the Government to deliver printed books and we have found both very constructive in discussing an array of potential options.
When I became chief executive of Yellow Pages in August last year, I made it an immediate priority to discuss the options for our books and explore and deliver a new digital framework. That includes format, distribution and the back-end systems to support changes. We are working hard on it and, as Mr Hughes suggests, opting in or opting out may form part of that change.
We are looking forward to continuing to help Kiwi businesses with their marketing efforts and to helping Kiwis find the information they need – information wherever and whenever they prefer, be it through White or Yellow online, websites, printed directories or an array of devices.
Chris Armistead is the CEO of Yellow.
- The Dominion Post
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