Diary

Star-Monopoly

This past week (8/6/12), in one of the Star-Advertiser’s most comprehensive investigative stories ever, Allison Schaefers examined RCO Hawaii LLC, a law firm which successfully lobbied this spring to open up non-judicial foreclosure advertising to weekly newspapers. Prior to this, only the Star Advertiser was allowed to publish the very lucrative notices. With the new law, notices can be run in other publications, including Honolulu Weekly.

ROC, Schaefers reported, is closely affiliated with Rim Publications, which specializes in foreclosure advertising. The article describes the firm as allegedly inflating the cost of foreclosure ads in other western states where it operates its publications.

What remained unremarked in this expansive two-page feature was that the Star-Advertiser enjoyed a monopoly on foreclosure ads prior to the passage of this law, at prohibitive rates of $95 per column inch. Not so strangely, these rates dropped by 50 percent in the midstream of this year’s legislative session, to $45 per column inch.

What its story targets as the key problem with this law firm and its publications–inflated ad prices–is the very thing that the Star-Advertiser is trying to protect for itself.