State Liquor Ad Ban a Threat to Spread of Printing Plants?

Article excerpt

The Wall Street Journal will not be able to print liquor ads in its planned $20 million Oklahoma City plant if bans on such advertising are affirmed by the courts, an Oklahoma Press Association official said Tuesday.

Ben Blackstock, executive vice president of the Oklahoma Press Association, said such a ban would also affect World Color Press Inc. in Stillwater, which prints national magazines such as Rolling Stone.

Blackstock made public a letter he has written to Gov. George Nigh expressing his concern. Blackstock said he has not received a reply.

Nigh's office said Blackstock's letter had been received but the governor had not read it.

""Permit me, Governor, to call to your attention a potentially bad situation to those of us who are interested in more jobs for Oklahomans,'' Blackstock wrote.

Blackstock said World Color Press is ""a decided lift to the economy'' in the Stillwater area and Dow Jones' decision to construct a satellite printing facility for The Wall Street Journal would beanother boost to the state economy.

A spokesman for The Wall Street Journal said Tuesday if the ban remains in place, it should have no major impact on the plant.

"I don't think this would have an impact on whether we locate the plant in Oklahoma City or not," said spokesman Larry Amour.

Amour said the paper's main advertising comes from office equipment companies and financial advertising, and said liquor ads are only a small part of the paper's revenue. There were no liquor ads in Tuesday's Southwest edition of The Wall Street Journal and only one in Monday's edition.

Blackstock said Lynn Barnett, assistant state attorney general, had filed a motion last month in federal court asking District Judge Lee West to set aside part of the liquor advertising suit against the state, Oklahoma Press Association, Oklahoma Broadcasters Association and others.

""Should the state prevail in enforcing this discriminatory restriction of commercial free speech,'' Blackstock said, ""neither of the above printing plants could ever print a publication in Oklahoma containing liquor advertising. To do so would be a violation of state law.''

""In all fairness to these new employers,'' Blackstock said, ""quick research should be done and these employers notified to avoid another embarassment like the General Motors auto plant ad valoremtax matter.''

Blackstock said the issue needs to be addressed while the Legislature is in session ""before (The Wall Street Journal) unnecessarily spends millions of dollars in Oklahoma.''

With the addition of the proposed Dow Jones facility and the World Color Press plant operating in Stillwater, Oklahoma is becoming increasingly attractive as a distribution point for national publications. …