The Santa Clarita Valley Signal filed a legal challenge to the Santa Clarita Gazette’s ability to call itself a “newspaper of general circulation” in a contest that’s been continued until Sept. 20.
“The technical term is we are the contestant,” said Jim Manning, attorney for Reid & Hellyer, a firm The Signal hired for the decision.
“We are testing the facts that were alleged by the (Santa Clarita Gazette &) Free Classifieds by (Publisher Doug) Sutton,” Manning said, noting that there were several steps to be taken before the Sept. 20 hearing date.
“We will be conducting some discovery as it’s called, we’re going to ask some questions of (Sutton) — we’re going to take his deposition and we’ll go from there.”
Sutton, who is the owner and one of the founders of the publication, is seeking legal permission to call itself a newspaper that, under state law, requires certain facts The Signal is contesting.
The requirements for adjudication are laid out by California Government Code Section 6000, which states the paper must have at least 25 percent pf its content dedicated to editorial content, that the paper has a bona fide subscriber list and that the paper be printed for at least a year prior to it seeking status as a newspaper of general circulation.
“We published the notice in The Signal from May 31 to June 9 for nine consecutive days,” said Doug Sutton, owner of the Santa Clarita Gazette and Free Classifieds. “We got the notice of contention on (June 10).”
The hearing was scheduled for June 13, but has now been delayed until September while the contestant and the petitioner discuss the facts of the case.
If successful, the petition would mean that the Santa Clarita Gazette and Free Classifieds could publish various legal notices that don’t require consecutive days of publication.
Sutton is only seeking adjudication for recognition by Los Angeles County as a paper of record.
The Signal is considered a paper of record for both Los Angeles County and the city of Santa Clarita.
The law doesn’t get into specific requirements for circulation numbers, Sutton said.
Sutton said his publication prints about 9,400 copies, and about 100 residents throughout the Santa Clarita Valley pay for subscription or delivery service for the weekly edition.
Most of his publication is delivered on Thursday, with some of the outlying areas receiving their copies Friday, said Sutton, who started the paper with partners in 1998 and began running it by himself in 2010.
“We’ll be re-evaluating the petition by (Santa Clarita Gazette &) Free Classifieds) and the claim by The Signal,” Manning said. “We’re going to raise any basis we can raise in good faith.”