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California Assembly Votes to Take Legal Revenue Away From Community Newspapers

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May 2, 2023

By Brian Hews

In a nearly unanimous vote, with two assembly people walking, the California Assembly voted 78-0 to take legal revenue away from community newspapers and place them on obscure unadjudicated websites.

See vote click here

The COVID-19 pandemic of 2020 dealt economic blows to many industries, the newspaper industry being one of them. It was already hard enough after internet giants like Google took advertising while taking news for free, now a bill being supported by a California local politician wants to further harm newspapers and possibly create even more “news deserts.”

AB 542, by newly elected Assemblymember Juan Carrillo (D-39), pertains to self-service storage facilities, their lien property sales and how they are announced.

The bill passed through the Asm. Judiciary Committee 11-0; on that committee – casting a yes vote to hurt community newspapers – is another Assembly newbie and former Downey Mayor Assemblywoman Blanca Pacheco.

As it stands now, storage facilities are required to advertise lien property sales twice in a local newspaper of “general circulation” — once a week, for two consecutive weeks. 

A newspaper of general circulation, as defined by Gov’t Code 6008, is a paper that has been adjudicated in court certifying the paper is circulated in a certain city.

The owner(s) of the newspaper are required to publish the newspaper and have an office in the city for three years before contemplating applying as a newspaper of general circulation in court.

A judge looks at the documents and renders a decision; if approved, the paper is “adjudicated as a newspaper of general circulation.”

Carillo’s bill allows a storage facility owner to bypass adjudicated print publications and post on any publicly accessible non-adjudicated Internet website that customarily conducts or advertises online auctions or sales, violating Gov’t Code 6008.

This would result in substantial lost revenue for newspapers, it is also grossly unfair to those newspapers who have attained the title general circulation.

The California News Publishers Association-made up of 66 daily, 310 weekly, 19 monthly and 30 campus newspapers-opposes the bill. Brenda Contreras, legislative director from Carrillo’s Sacramento office, said in an email to a Valley Press reporter that they have a meeting with the CNPA scheduled soon.

The CNPA sent a letter dated March 6 to Assemblyman Brian Maienschein, chair of the Assembly Judiciary Committee and other members of the committee, to express their strong opposition to the bill “because it would deny those without Internet access to notices that are legally required to inform the public of various issues.”

“Public notice newspaper advertising is an extension of journalism that protects the authenticity of and access to public information,” the letter said. “Please do not disrupt this vital aspect of service to the people.”

The letter cited several key flaws in the proposed legislation, including eliminating necessary transparency that prevents conflicts of interest.

“AB 542 contemplates reliance on [unadjudicated] niche websites as a resort for public information,” the letter said.

“Information consumption in the state contradicts this belief. More than 10 million Californians rely on home-delivered [adjudicated] print newspapers or their e-editions for news. The weekly circulation, unique web visitor counts and social media following of newspapers is a million-fold of websites that conducts or advertises online auctions or sales.

“We don’t understand why Carrillo would want to interfere with how news is delivered to Californians. We also don’t know if he realizes the great financial impact that his bill will have on all newspapers in the state.”

Members of the CNPA and editors and publishers of newspapers across the state will reach out to Carrillo in the coming weeks asking him to pull the bill.

Attorney Scott Talkov of Talkov Law, an expert on newspaper adjudication having successfully obtained adjudication for several local California newspapers while also defending adjudicated newspapers from unscrupulous attacks, told Los Cerritos Community News, “Another chance for certain industries to hide their actions from the public to the detriment of those whose rights are at issue.”

If readers want to reach out to Carrillo and ask him to pull the bill, he can be reached at or [email protected] or [email protected] or [email protected]

The bill now moves to the Senate where it is unknown what will happen.