Sunday, July 2, 2017

Modernization of Public Notice Laws in North Carolina

North Carolina’s Public Notice laws are antiquated laws without vendor or marketplace competitive models. North Carolina public notice law currently forces state and local taxpayers to spend millions of dollars annually on hardcopy newspaper legal notices that are non-searchable, hard to read, wasteful and reach fewer and fewer people each year.  Many of the public notice laws were established when printed papers were the only public media available. The public notice requirements in state law which always identify “publish in paid newspaper” have no basis other than to help the bottom line of newspapers in the State of North Carolina. The cost to taxpayers is determined by a monopolistic outdated business model and mainly from a single source provider. Many places no longer have daily newspapers.

Millions of dollars of government and taxpayer moneys are paid at all levels of government each year on public notices. Technology allows multiple avenues in obtaining and distributing information through various media outlets such as wireless, internet, radio, television and newspapers. North Carolina State Law should reflect these improved methods of communication by identifying alternative publication methods that are cost effective and technologically advanced. All public notices should only be published in outlets for which there is no charge to the consumer to obtain them unlike the newspapers which charge you to buy a paid paper to see the notice. The monopolistic approach of choosing only newspapers as the exclusive repository of public notices is bad government. Government officials need to start thinking about 2017 public notice laws instead of 1940 public notice laws. These laws were made well before the computer came into existence.

Here is a little question and answer from Howard Owens a digital media pioneer:

Q. How will citizens benefit from online legal notices?

A. Online publication opens up a wealth of opportunities for legal notice enhancements, from maps, links to related data, searching, greater and wider distribution (think Google), and continuous archives.

Q. But not everybody has access to a computer or the Internet. Won’t this deny those people an opportunity to view legal notices?

A. The flip answer is, not everybody reads a newspaper. The truth is, neither paper nor online have a monopoly on readership. Just as anybody can borrow a neighbor’s paper or go to the library to read a paper, everybody  has a friend or relative with online access and the library offers free online access.  For people with a real interest in online notice publication, such publication is equally accessible both online and in print.  The online advantage, if any in this regard, is that the notice is still easily available days later if you happen to throw out your newspaper before seeing an important notice.

It is time to overhaul the  N.C. Press Association Monopoly Protection Act because all it does is keep the State of North Carolina in 1940 standards when we need to understand it is 2017 time for the cities and counties who want to provide this information to the people do so without having to waste plenty of taxpayers money.

No comments: