From the Legal Hotline (1-877-NEWS-LAW)

From the Legal Hotline (1-877-NEWS-LAW)

Q. I’m trying to get up to speed on the legal publication qualification law changes that will take effect on Jan. 1, 2024, and I’m hoping you might be able to clarify something for me. Will publications holding a periodicals permit (including Requester) be required to meet the 10% penetration threshold in a county and/or municipality in order to qualify for legals? Or does the penetration not matter under the new law as long as the publication has a periodicals permit?

A. You can rely on your periodicals permit under both the current law and the new law which went into effect Jan. 1, 2023. You will not have to meet the audience threshold if you have a permit.

Q.One of our reps took a political ad which indicated “paid advertisement” but she forgot to say by whom. We are correcting it online to say Paid for by……….. the entity that bought it.
I was curious for your advice on this type of ad and if we’re required to say by whom or if the “paid advertisement” was enough. Thanks for any guidance you can provide,

A.A “political ad” by a non-candidate published before the election should be marked “paid political advertisement” or with the abbreviation “pd. pol. adv.,” state the name and address of the persons paying for the advertisement, and state whether the ad cost was paid for or provided in kind by or at the expense of the entity publishing the political advertisement.

Regarding the ad in question, however, it does not appear to be a “political ad,” as defined in Florida law. It says “vote them [School Board] out,” but does not expressly advocate for the election or defeat of a particular candidate or approval or rejection of an issue, and therefore does not appear to be a they type of ad requiring the above disclaimer. It also does not appear to be an electioneering communication requiring a disclaimer.

However, “miscellaneous advertisements” that are “intended to influence public policy” shall “clearly designate the sponsor of such advertisement by including a clearly readable statement of sponsorship.” I think this ad arguably falls within this category and, therefore, should include such a statement.

Q. I’ve been asked to price a political ad containing various allegations and general mudslinging. Before I respond, I’d like your take on the content, outside of the typical rhetoric, especially those areas that I think need to be changed or deleted. As you can tell, there is no attribution for his accusations. The candidate’s ad says his opponent “almost destroyed our county,” was involved in “hush money,” would let special interests rule, is a “complete outsider,” and who “doesn’t own a home in the area.”

A.I think the ad in general is ok. It does raise negative conclusions about the commissioner (“almost destroying” and “hush hush”) but explains why. While I am not sure this language is defamatory, I still think you can edit to tone down if you choose to do so.

“Special interests” is a term used all the time in political speech, and it could mean almost anything. “Outsider” is pretty vague but seems to underscore the statement that he does not own, which is unclear.

The main point I would have some concern about is stating as a fact that the opponent does not own a home in the county. That is a statement of fact that is provable as true or false. But I’m not entirely sure it is defamatory. In any event, I think it would be helpful to either confirm that assertion (county property records probably provide the information) or remove it.
Finally, I think he needs the proper disclaimer, which appears to be the following, but he should be aware he is responsible for the correct language.

“(c) Any other political advertisement published, displayed, or circulated before, or on the day of, any election must prominently:
1. Be marked “paid political advertisement” or with the abbreviation “pd. pol. adv.”
2. State the name and address of the persons paying for the advertisement.
3. State whether the advertisement and the cost of production is paid for or provided in kind by or at the expense of the entity publishing, displaying, broadcasting, or circulating the political advertisement.”

Q.As we understand it, Florida law prohibits online gambling and casino ads, but since this is not advertising an online gambling site, but a “how’s your luck report” if you want to gamble, we think that’s ok. That said, we want to be sure this is not just a door that leads to a gambling site.

A. This doesn’t look like an online betting site ad or one that leads directly to such a site, but rather offers lotto number predictions from astrologers, etc. So, it doesn’t seem to be a problem to me.

Q. Aren’t fictitious name notices supposed to be run in a chapter 50 qualified paper?

A. Yes, the intention to register the name must be advertised at least once in a newspaper as defined in chapter 50 in the county in which the principal place of business of the registrant is or will be located. See 865.09 (3)(a)5.