By: Dorothy Giobbe AS PART OF a push to expand its client base, Publicitas Advertising Services Inc. will provide one order/one bill processing for the recently formed Tri-State Network. Publicitas is the one order/one bill provider for the Newspaper Association of America-sponsored Newspaper National Network, as well as a provider for Ampersand, the Editor & Publisher Co. on-line service. Bill Howard, president and CEO, said that as increasing groups of newspapers form networks, there is a growing demand for a comprehensive third-party processing service. Publicitas has contacted existing and potential networks from all over the country, Howard said, adding that currently it is "trying to nail something in the Midwest." Publicitas also has developed a package designed to "help pull together a network," Howard said. The package includes information about pricing, insertion orders and legal issues concerning newspaper networks. "With the package we can clone a network," Howard said. "That way newspapers don't have to sit down with five lawyers to figure out how to do it." Howard said that Publicitas is "EDI-ready" and currently is testing electronic ordering and payment with newspapers that are part of the NNN. Publicitas' sales effort will include sales calls to advertising agencies and their clients, Howard said. Plans call for branch sales offices to be opened later this year in Los Angeles, Miami, Chicago and Dallas. Howard said that even as Publicitas expands its client base, it will remain focused on its processing service. "Our contract with the NAA stipulates that we don't buy or negotiate rates," Howard said. "Even if it didn't, we wouldn't do it. We're just interested in processing orders." When calling on agencies "we're very careful not to confuse them about our function, and the response that we've gotten indicates that they're not confused," he said. Late last year, Publicitas was named the one order/one bill provider for the NNN (E&P, Nov. 20, p. 2). The relationship with the NNN was one of the reasons the Tri-State Network chose Publicitas, Howard said. "It makes us a little more familiar than if we were walking in out of the cold," he added. Pete Smith, national advertising manager for Newsday and New York Newsday, agreed, saying the association with NNN was one of the primary motivations to use the organization. Smith is part of the seven-member steering committee for the Tri-State Network. "Publicitas already has a working model that had been tried and tested," Smith said. "It just seemed to make the most sense." The Tri-State Network is comprised of approximately 21 newspapers in the New York metro area. Other members of the steering committee include representatives from Sawyer Ferguson Walker, Newspapers First, Newhouse Newspapers and Gannett Co. Inc. Ads will be sold on a $25- to $30- CPM basis, with a 13-week schedule and a minimum six-newspaper commitment. Initially network sales efforts will concentrate solely on automotive advertising but eventually may include additional categories, Smith said. Publicitas will function as a third-party administrator in order not to disclose rates and other competitive information, Smith said.