House Bill 205: website publication of legal notices still in play

RALEIGH — While the original “website publication of legal notices” did not pass, the change of publication venues arose again with House Bill 205. In February an act to amend workers compensation rules for prisoners had a provision added by Sen. Trudy Wade to allow local governments in Guilford County to post legal notices on their websites instead of buying space in newspapers.

While newspapers have actively lobbied against losing this source of revenue, legislators have argued this change would save taxpayers’ money. Gov. Roy Cooper vetoed the bill in July saying.

“Legislation that enacts retribution on the media threatens a free and open press, which is fundamental to our democracy,” Cooper wrote.

The House lacks the votes to override the veto. NowWade plans to introduce a new, local bill — not subject to a veto — to accomplish the same purpose when the legislature meets for an extra session.

Legal notices contain important information that needs to be noticed by the public. The cost of advertising is often over a reasonable price and with the limited distribution now. Newspapers have counted on this revenue to sustain their operations. The Daily Courier reported a circulation of approximately 4,100. In contrast, RC Catalyst reaches up to 70,000 unique users monthly on the website and a reported 150,000 impressions on Facebook. Statistics on the county website were not immediately available.

 

RC Catalyst will continue to follow this issue.