Government Code Section 6008 – Newspaper of General Circulation Law California

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California Government Code sections 6008 is one of the two statutes, the second one being Government Code Section 6000, that allow a publication to become adjudicated through a newspaper of general circulation attorney in California. This entitles the newspaper to publish legal advertising in its particular jurisdiction of adjudication. This article outlines the general parameters of these this statute.

California Government Code Section 6008

Government Code Section 6008 provides:

(a) Notwithstanding any provision of law to the contrary, a newspaper is a “newspaper of general circulation” if it meets all of the following criteria:

(1) It is a newspaper published for the dissemination of local or telegraphic news and intelligence of a general character, which has a bona fide subscription list of paying subscribers and has been established and published at regular intervals of not less than weekly in the city, district, or public notice district for which it is seeking adjudication for at least three years preceding the date of adjudication.

(2) It has a substantial distribution to paid subscribers in the city, district, or public notice district in which it is seeking adjudication.

(3) It has maintained a minimum coverage of local or telegraphic news and intelligence of a general character of not less than 25 percent of its total inches during each year of the three-year period.

(4) It has only one principal office of publication and that office is in the city, district, or public notice district for which it is seeking adjudication.

(b) For the purposes of Section 6020 , a newspaper meeting the criteria of this section which desires to have its standing as a newspaper of general circulation ascertained and established, may, by its publisher, manager, editor, or attorney, file a verified petition in the superior court of the county in which it is established and published.

(c) As used in this section:

(1) “Established” means in existence under a specified name during the whole of the three-year period, except that a modification of name in accordance with Section 6024 , where the modification of name does not substantially change the identity of the newspaper, shall not affect the status of the newspaper for the purposes of this definition.

(2) “Published” means issued from the place where the newspaper is sold to or circulated among the people and its subscribers during the whole of the three-year period.

(3) “Public notice district” means a public notice district described in Chapter 1.1 (commencing with Section 6080 ).

To expand, the requirements of Section 6008 are:

  1. “Dissemination of local or telegraphic news and intelligence of a general character”
    • Government Code section 6001 explains that a newspaper of general circulation cannot be “devoted to the interests, or published for the entertainment or instruction of a particular class, profession, trade, calling, race, or denomination, or for any number thereof, when the avowed purpose is to entertain or instruct such classes . . . .”
  2. “It has maintained a minimum coverage of local or telegraphic news and intelligence of a general character of not less than 25 percent of its total inches during each year of the three-year period.”
    • In other words, 25% of the content in the publication must be the local or telegraphic news and intelligence of a general character. The use of the term “inches” suggests that in a close case, a court could compare the number of square inches in a publication used for the content as compared to the total number of square inches in the publication. See In re Green (1913) 21 Cal.App. 138 (a newspaper which, in addition to items of local news, publishes real estate transfers, court news, and telegraphic dispatches of general interest, is a newspaper of general circulation).
  3. “[H]as a bona fide subscription list of paying subscribers” and “has a substantial distribution to paid subscribers in the city, district, or judicial district in which it is seeking adjudication.”
    • A list of paying subscribers is “bona fide” if it is a “real, actual, genuine subscription list.” In re Herman (1920) 183 Cal. 153, 164. Although there is no statute specifying the number of subscribers that must be on this list, Section 6008 requires a “substantial” distribution to paying subscribers. In contrast, Section 6000 provides no “substantial” requirement.
  4. “[H]as been established . . . for at least three years preceding the date of adjudication.”
    • “‘Established’ means in existence under a specified name during the whole of the three-year period . . . .” Gov. Code section 6008(1).
  5. “[H]as been . . . published [at least] weekly in the city, district, or judicial district for which it is seeking adjudication”
    • “‘Published’ means issued from the place where the newspaper is sold to or circulated among the people and its subscribers during the whole of the three-year period.” Gov. Code section 6008(2).
  6. “It has only one principal office of publication and that office is in the city, district, or judicial district for which it is seeking adjudication.”
    • In other words, the publication’s “principal” office of publication must be in the city, county, district or judicial district for which adjudication is sought. See In re Tri-Valley Herald (1985) 169 Cal.App.3d 865 for a more expansive discussion of this requirement.
  7. “[A] newspaper meeting the criteria of this section which desires to have its standing as a newspaper of general circulation ascertained and established, may, by its publisher, manager, editor, or attorney, file a verified petition in the superior court of the county in which it is established and published.”
    • A petition for adjudication must be verified by the publication’s publisher, manager, editor, or attorney.

The outline, above, provides only the broad requirements for adjudication under Government Code Section 6008. If you have specific questions about the statutory scheme governing newspapers of general circulation in California, contact a California media lawyer with experience counseling publications large and small with concerns related to newspaper legal advertising.

Contact a Newspaper of General Circulation Attorney

Navigating this niche area of law requires the expertise of an experienced media and First Amendment attorney. Talkov Law has handled dozens of newspaper of general circulation petitions, representing petitioners and contestants of national, regional and local prominence throughout Los Angeles, Orange, San Diego, Ventura, Riverside and San Bernardino counties. For a free, 15 minute consultation, contact the newspaper of general circulation attorneys online or by phone at (844) 4-TALKOV (825568).

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About Scott Talkov

Scott Talkov is a real estate lawyer, business litigator and bankruptcy attorney in California. He founded Talkov Law Corp. after one decade of experience with one of the region's oldest law firms, where he served as one of the firm's partners. He can be reached at (844) 4-TALKOV (825568) or scott@talkovlaw.com.

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