From the Legal Hotline (1-877-NEWS-LAW)
Q. If we accept political advertising from one candidate, does that obligate us to accept advertising from all candidates in that race? Or candidates in any race? I know we have to charge the same rate from candidate to candidate, but I didn’t see anything in your political advertising post that addressed when we may be required to accept advertising.
A. The equal-time rule says radio and television broadcast stations must provide an equivalent opportunity to any opposing political candidates who request it. However, I’m not aware of those requirements applying to newspaper advertising so you should have no such obligation. Also, I don’t think you have to accept ads from a candidate if you choose not to.
Q. I have noted that a neighboring newspaper publishes a large quantity of tax deed notices.
We have not published any. Is this public notice category a county-by-county opt-in or is this a state-wide requirement?
A.The tax lien notices you refer to are required by “sec. 197.512,” which says the clerk of court must publish them in “a newspaper selected as provided in s. 197.404.” However, it looks like the board of county commissioners actually selects the newspaper for the clerk to publish. See 197.402. Maybe you could start by contacting your tax collector’s office and see how the county selects the newspaper? They might refer you to someone else in the county but it seems logical to start there.
Q. I believe you confirmed that the tax rolls need to be sent to the state-wide site, floridapublicnotices.com. I am working on doing this, but I have a couple of questions. Is there a requirement of them being display ads, or can they be text ads? Do they need to be separate ads, or can we upload them as a single display ad and send a PDF of the pages under 1 ad?
A. Apparently, the practice is to upload the entire tax roll as a pdf to the Column website. Due to the formatting, it isn’t able to be uploaded as an XML as is done with other notices, so it is technically more of a display ad.
Q. Currently, to qualify for legal notices, the paper needs to have at least a place of business in the county it is getting the notices from—in other words, the printing does not have to be done in the county. Is this correct? And, based on the answer to the first question, does this change with the new laws?
A. I don’t see a requirement that the paper have a place of business or a printing operation in the county. It would of course have to have a postal permit in the county if relying on a permit. I don’t think the new law changes this.
Q. We have a special section that is to go to print today with drawings by elementary school students of advertisements. The business sponsor then chooses the ad drawing they like best and the drawing is finalized and we print it. The student’s name is always on their drawing. The question has come up today if we should have parent permission to print the child’s name on these drawings. Can you advise?
A. There is no legal requirement but from a “don’t rock the boat” perspective if you want to require parental permission, you could.
Q. Two quick questions regarding legal notice affidavits. First, does the notary who stamps our affidavits need to be a notary in the county where the paper is located/circulated? Second, can the affidavit use a PDF stamp on the document?
A. Regarding your first question, the form affidavit in s. 50.051 does not require or infer that your notary needs to be in the same county where the newspaper is located. The form affidavit simply states where the affidavit is executed and the notarial act is taking place, not where the ad is published.
Regarding the second question, the clipping or electronic image must appear in the white space on the right side of the affidavit. If the notice requires a newspaper clipping (tax deeds, public sales, etc.) the common practice is to cut/paste the clipping and place it on the right in the white space. If provided electronically, the image of the notice could appear in that space instead of the clipping. You could use a jpeg image of the notice to adhere to the white space on the notice. I understand that sometimes an original stamp/signature is requested–usually involving property transactions–and this could be supplied in those cases.