American Society of Magazine Editors

Several States Active on Magazine Media Subscription and Negative Option Bills

May 3, 2013

Following a flurry of early session activity, state legislators continue to be interested in regulating automatic renewals and free trials. In addition to bills dealing with automatic renewals, a bill has been introduced in New York specifically targeting magazine subscriptions and requiring that consumers be provided telephone contact information.
Despite being the home state of the magazine industry, New York continues to introduce bills focused on automatic renewals and free trials for magazines.  Bills being considered in the Senate and Assembly outline specific requirements magazine publishers must follow when offering subscription offers containing automatic renewal provisions.
Also in New York, Sen. Grisanti, Chair of the Senate Consumer Protection Committee, has introduced a bill that would require magazine publishers to include a customer service telephone number on billing statements or invoices for magazine subscriptions.  The companion bill in the Assembly was introduced by Rep. Dinowitz, who has introduced a similar bill every year since 2007.  The bill has not been introduced in the Senate since 2008.  MPA will be heading to Albany to discuss the bill with Sen. Grisanti. 
Though not directly focused on magazines, bills introduced in Maine, Michigan, and Illinois contain provisions regulating subscriptions, automatic renewals and negative option offers.  These bills are also active and being closely watched by MPA.  
As for the good news, bills introduced earlier in the year in Vermont, Maryland, and Connecticut have not advanced and appear unlikely to do so for the reminder of the state legislative sessions.