Fight Over Unsolicited Newspaper Product Could End Up In Court

Jan 19, 2017

Credit kentucky.com, via WEKU

The disagreement between Lexington’s city council and the city’s daily newspaper over the distribution of unsolicited publications could end up in court. 

Representatives of the Lexington Herald-Leader went before a council committee Tuesday looking for an exemption from a pending ordinance.

A proposed ordinance requiring unsolicited business materials be placed on front porches is headed to the full Lexington council.  Herald-Leader officials argue that because the publication includes news items as well as advertisements it should be eligible for First Amendment protection when it comes to distribution. 

 An attorney representing the paper, John Bussian, was asked if the Herald-Leader would sue, if the proposal becomes law.  “I think the next step is that litigation seems inevitable and we’ve had to take that action even though we don’t want to and we’re here to try to avoid litigation,” Bussian said.

Council members cite citizen complaints about the “community news” publications ending up in streets, and in some cases, accumulating in driveways. 

Richard Morgan with the Herald-Leader saod households can stop service.  He says there’s been only one formal complaint in the last three months​

The council and the newspaper have been discussing the distribution of the community news product since at least 2013. It is a targeted advertising publication that includes some community news that is delivered for free within certain zip codes.