21 Mar 2014

Phone book opt-out may be first step

5:14 am on 21 March 2014

The Government is open to further changes in how people get telephone directories, after announcing that from next year people will be able to decide not to have a phone book.

Under an historical agreement with the Crown, those who have a home phone are entitled to a free listing and residential White Pages directory.

People will be able to opt out of getting a phone book.

People will be able to opt out of getting a phone book. Photo: RNZ

From next year home-phone users will be able say they don't want a phone book, and will still be sent one unless they opt out.

In Auckland residents can instead request a phone book, and relatively few have done so. Last year, a trial that asked Aucklanders to opt in if they wanted to receive the residential phone book saw circulation fall from nearly half a million copies to just 21,000.

Communications and Information Technology Minister Amy Adams isn't ruling out this system being used everywhere, but said directory publisher Yellow requested an opt-out system, and it was a sensible option.

If 5 percent of households opted out, 175,000 fewer phone books would be sent out, she said.

Michael Boersen of Yellow said Aucklanders will continue to have to opt in if they want a residential phone books, but elswhere, the change will be more gradual. He is expecting as few as 1-in 100 people to formally give up their telephone book.