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As The Advocate tries to encroach on The Times-Picayunes’ public advertising business, other newspapers below I-10 are taking notice and doing what they can to protect their turf.

HB 787 by Rep. Jeff Arnold, D-Algiers, allows The Advocate to bid on the same legal advertisements as the Picayune in Orleans and Jefferson parishes, even though the paper hasn’t been there for the required five-year waiting period.

When the bill went through the House Municipal Committee last month, an amendment was added by Rep. Taylor Barras, R-New Iberia, to tighten the language so that it applied only to Orleans and Jefferson.

He said he was contacted by representatives from The Lafayette Advertiser, which covers an area that The Advocate’s new publisher John Georges has targeted as a growth market.

“They just wanted to make sure there would be no confusion. Some of the locals were contacting them and asking if the bill meant the legal and judicial notices would have to be turned into The Advocate. We just wanted to make sure there isn’t any confusion,” Barras said.

Another lawmaker told LaPolitics that interested parties in the Houma-Thibodaux region are following the debate closely, especially since it’s another market Georges has singled out in recent presentations on The Advocate’s future.

“What’s to stop them from going down there next?” the lawmaker said. “We used to never have to deal with these kinds of bills. Now they’re popping up every few years.”

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