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Public notice bill killed

Dow Jones and Virginia local newspapers have been squabbling over public notice rights in the past year. When the Wall Street Journal decided to cherry-pick public notices in Virginia, papers like the Richmond Times-Dispatch and The Virginian-Pilot headed to court.

Del. Steve Landes, R-Waynesboro, had an idea to open up the market even more, with a bill to authorize “alternatives to publication in a newspaper of general circulation in the locality for legal ads and other notices of proposed action.”

Under House Bill 586, localities with public notices could choose from a newspaper’s Web site, the local government’s Web site, a public access channel, an automated text or alert system or posting at the local library.

On Friday, a legislative subcommittee voted 8 to 3 not to recommend the proposal.

A Virginia Beach case on the authority of newspapers to publish legal notice advertising, Virginian-Pilot Media Companies LLC v. Dow Jones & Company Inc., is pending before the Supreme Court of Virginia, with argument expected later this year
By Deborah Elkins

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