Newspaper Industry News, WVPA Sharing

Urgent Reminder: Newspapers must file Affidavit of Circulation with WVSOS by Nov. 1

Newspapers must include the street address of the office, not a post office box number, to be considered a qualified newspaper for legal advertisements

WV Press News Sharing

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The West Virginia Secretary of State’s office reports that many newspapers still need to file their Affidavit of Circulation form for the coming fiscal year.

The Affidavit of Circulation and a copy of your statement of ownership are due by Nov. 1.

NOTE: WVSOS officials also remind publishers that each newspaper is required to provide the address of its physical office, not just a Post Office Box number. Forms without a physical address will be rejected.

The WV Secretary of State’s Affidavit of Circulation is attached. It is due Nov. 1. 2022. Note: The WVSOS form – Newspaper Affidavit – does update each year. The 2022 form has a new format.

Please Note: Newspapers seeking status as a qualified newspaper for West Virginia Legals should only apply in the one county in which its office is located and designed by its postal permit.  There can be penalties for incorrectly listing “qualified newspaper” status.

The WVPA has also attached a sample letter of “Notification of Legal Rates” that state code says you should provide to the following:  “…the the clerk of the county commission and the board of education of the county in which the qualified newspaper is published. … If the qualified newspaper is published in a municipality, the publisher or proprietor shall at the same time also furnish the same notification to the clerk or recorder of the municipality.”

SPECIAL ALERT — Each newspaper needs to review its current circulation and legal charges. According to state codes, what a newspaper can charge for legals is based on its circulation. If the newspaper’s circulation has fallen or risen into another classification, the newspaper needs to adjust its rate.

Also note, that if the newspaper has adjusted its page size, column size or number of legal columns, it will need to adjust the rate. There is a set method of determining rate, if you need help, give Don Smith a call at 304-342-1011 or email to [email protected]  The WVPA can also review a newspaper’s rates at anytime to ensure the newspaper is within state guidelines. There are serious penalties for overcharging.

Starting on Thursday, Oct. 27, WV Press will host regular online legal advertising training sessions for newspaper staff members. The board of directors has made servicing legal advertisement priority for the WVPA and member newspapers. The WV Press staff will also be visiting newspaper locations to help with legal advertising.

The rate/circulation classifications are based on this basic formula: The rates which a publisher or proprietor of a qualified newspaper in West Virginia may charge and receive for a single or first publication of any legal advertisement set solid depends on the bonafide circulation of the newspaper, as follows (These rates totals are adjusted and correct):

(1) 7 cents per word if the qualified newspaper has a bona fide circulation of less than 1,000, except as provided in subdivision (1), subsection (a) of this section;

(2) 11 and one-half cents per word if the qualified newspaper has a bona fide circulation of 1,000 to 5,000;

(3) 12 cents per word if the qualified newspaper has a bona fide circulation of more than 5,000 but less than 10,000;

(4) 13 cents per word if the qualified newspaper has a bona fide circulation of more than 10,000 and less than 30,000; or

(5) 14 cents per word if the qualified newspaper has a bona fide circulation of 30,000 or more: 

Please be sure your newspaper’s legal charges are based on those rates and that the circulation level is correct.

Key Dates:

Oct. 1 — Your newspaper’s annual Statement of Ownership form is due at the Post Office before Oct. 1 of each year.

Nov. 1 — Your annual Affidavit of Circulation is due (along with a copy of your statement of ownership) at the WV Secretary of State’s office before Nov. 1 of each year. There can be a severe penalty – in terms of a reduced legal ad rate – for missing these deadlines.

The USPS Statement of Ownership form is attached below along with USPS instructions to file online. As noted, it must be filed by Oct. 1. Dailies must publish a completed copy of this form in their newspaper by Oct. 10, and non-dailies by Oct. 31.

Note: The US Postal form – ps3526 – does not always update each year. The last update of which WVPA is aware was 2014.

The filing and publication of this form is a requirement for maintaining periodicals mailing privileges. Dailies should have published a completed copy of this form in their newspaper by Oct. 10, and non-dailies by Oct. 31.
The ability to claim electronic subscribers is incorporated into the form. There are specific requirements as to what defines a paid electronic subscriber. A print subscriber that is given free access to your electronic version is not a paid electronic subscriber. A paid electronic subscriber must pay a separate subscription rate that you have established for electronic subscribers. 

When the two forms are complete, please send a copy of these forms to the WVPA office: West Virginia Press Association, 3422 Pennsylvania Ave., Charleston, W.Va. 25302

LOCAL NOTICE: At the time a publisher or proprietor of a qualified newspaper files an affidavit with the Secretary of State, the publisher or proprietor shall notify the clerk of the county commission and the board of Education of the county in which the qualified newspaper is published of the circulation classification of the qualified newspaper and of the applicable rate for publishing legal advertisements in the qualified newspaper during the ensuing twelve-month period commencing July 1, . If the qualified newspaper is published in a municipality, the publisher or proprietor shall at the same time also furnish the same notification to the clerk or recorder of the municipality.

Here is a Sample Letter of Legal Rate Notification for fiscal year 2023:

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