Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Boston Approves New Newsrack Ordinance

The Boston City Council today voted to approve a significant overhaul of the city's ordinance governing the placement of newsracks. The most significant change is in the fees newspapers must pay. Under the prior ordinance, newspapers paid a one-time registration fee of $150. Now, they will be required to pay an annual registration fee of $300 plus annual fees of $25 per box. The new ordinance must be signed by the mayor before becoming law and then will take effect after 150 days.

The ordinance consolidates newsrack oversight and enforcement within the city's public works department and creates a system for electronically tagging and monitoring newsracks. It allows the commissioner of public works to designate locations as high-traffic areas and limit the number of newsracks in such areas. In areas where the numbers of newsracks are limited, eligibility to place boxes will go to newspapers on a first-come, first-served basis.

Here is a copy of the ordinance approved today (PDF): Boston Newsracks Ordinance 07 30 2008.


Anonymous said...

Absolutely no question this is unconstitutional. Newspaper delivery can not be restricted in this manner. You have to wonder why they bothered.

Anonymous said...

I have no love for the flocking boxes that gather on sidewalks like pigeons, but this becomes a First Amendment issue. Legit newspapers are having a tough time right now with declining revenues, layoffs and possibly having to print their own obituaries. Circulation is of vital importance for newspapers, and this type of control effort will only help to kill them. Ironically, nobody would care if it were just three or four real newspapers, but now there are boxes for every conceivable ad flyer. But they can all be argued as freedom of the press.