Legal Definition of Newspaper

Newspapers of General Circulation (45 Pa. C.S.A. § 101)

A "newspaper of general circulation” is a newspaper that is:

  • issued at least once a week (daily newspapers are included in this description);
  • intended for general distribution and circulation; and
  • sold at fixed prices per copy per week, per month or per year, to subscribers and readers without regard to business, trade, profession or class.

Basically, any daily or weekly newspaper that is sold to the public in general is a "newspaper of general circulation."

A “Newspaper” is defined as:

  • a printed paper or publication;
  • bearing a title or name;
  • reporting local or general news;
  • printing editorial comment, announcements, miscellaneous reading matter, commercial advertising, classified advertising, legal advertising, and other notices;
  • must be at least four or more pages long per publication;
  • published continuously during a period of at least six (6) months, or as the successor of such a printed paper or publication issued during an immediate prior period of at least six (6) months;
  • is circulated and distributed from an established place of business to subscribers or readers;
  • is sold for a definite price;
  • either entered or entitled to be entered under the Postal Rules and Regulations as periodical matter (formerly second class mail); and
  • subscribed for by readers at a fixed price for each copy, or at a price fixed per year.

Free Newspapers: Free newspapers are not considered "newspapers of general circulation." Legal advertising cannot be done in free newspapers even if they meet all of the above requirements.

Internet Publishing: The law does not specifically address including legal advertisements on internet versions of a newspaper. It is the position of the Pennsylvania Newspaper Association that "printed" legal advertisements can remain in an on-line reproduction of a newspaper, but such an advertisement cannot be considered a paid legal advertisement. The actual legal advertisement itself must be in a printed newspaper of general circulation and the advertising fee must reflect the publication in this newspaper only.

Unauthorized Advertisements: Only government advertisements authorized by law may be published. In addition, advertisements may not be published in more newspapers than the law authorizes (45 Pa. C.S.A. § 310).

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