Ever wonder why taking out a public notice costs so much money? It shouldn’t be that way. With the demise of print newspapers, it no longer makes sense to require that public notices be published only in newspapers. More people have access to the internet now than subscribe to print newspapers. Yet print newspapers have successfully fought tooth and nail over the past 10 years to keep their government-sanctioned monopoly of publishing public notices in place. Every year, powerful newspaper lobbyists convince Republican state legislators to vote against their principles and perpetuate this exclusive monopoly to the dying newspapers. In today’s internet era, it is nothing more than corporate welfare.
This week, three Republican legislators in Arizona who hold themselves out as conservatives went against the position of the conservative Goldwater Institute and voted down a bill in committee that would have eliminated the newspapers’ monopoly. This makes no sense, considering it would have the accompanying benefit of speeding up the demise of the liberal news media that consistently attacks Republicans. Additionally, it would increase transparency, since regular online news sites are easier to find than trying to find a notice buried in an archaic newspaper archives. Newspapers in Arizona share one online database for public notices, which is not searchable by Google, and gets less than 100 visitors per day.
This year there are bills being considered in several state legislatures. Each year for the past 10 years, bills have been introduced in state legislatures to eliminate this crony capitalism. So far the print newspaper industry has proven too powerful and successfully defeated them.
Printing public notices gives newspapers a guaranteed revenue stream that the rest of us in the private sector don’t receive. Historically, newspapers have received 80% of their revenues from advertising. Currently only a handful of print newspapers in each state are authorized by law to print public notices. They raise the prices artificially to gouge consumers and government, which increases taxes. To publish a notice of a trustee sale in Arizona, most newspapers charge close to $600.