March 4, 2020
A bill that would end the newspaper industry’s grip on public notice advertising was OK’d by the full House on Wednesday.
Rep. Randy Fine, who is sponsoring HB 7, has pushed to end the advertising requirement for a couple of Sessions now. He says the current system is a “subsidy to a dying industry” and claims it would be more efficient to spread the word about law changes or important dates through the internet or direct mail.
The newspaper industry is vociferously opposed — nearly every paper in the state has published an op-ed blasting the plan at some point this Session. Less publicly, their position is being pushed by a team of lobbyists in the Capitol.
Providing the industry a united front is the Florida Press Association, which has its president, Jim Fogler, roaming the halls alongside in-house advocate Samuel Morley. FPA also has Kimberly Case of Holland & Knight on retainer.
Gannett Media Group, which owns USA Today and several local papers in Florida, has its own representation, including Ron Book and Kelly Mallette, as well as Dean Cannon of GrayRobinson.
The First Amendment Foundation is also on the print media’s side. Their lobbying efforts are led by Pamela Marsh, who took over as the FAF’s leader late last year. She’s getting an assist from her predecessor, Barbara Petersen.
There’s a good chance that newspapers will get their way this Session, as companion legislation in the Senate (SB 1340) hasn’t been heard in committee.