Chapter 2739: SLANDER; LIBEL

2739.01 Libel and slander.

In an action for a libel or slander, it is sufficient to state, generally, that the defamatory matter was published or spoken of the plaintiff. If the allegation is denied, the plaintiff must prove the facts, showing that the defamatory matter was published or spoken of him. In such action it is not necessary to set out any obscene word, but it is sufficient to state its import.

Cite as R.C. § 2739.01

Effective Date: 10-01-1953

2739.02 Defenses in actions for libel or slander.

In an action for a libel or a slander, the defendant may allege and prove the truth of the matter charged as defamatory. Proof of the truth thereof shall be a complete defense. In all such actions any mitigating circumstances may be proved to reduce damages.

Cite as R.C. § 2739.02

Effective Date: 10-01-1953

2739.03 Conditions for liability of owners, licensees, or operators of radio and television stations.

(A) The owner, licensee, or operator of a visual or sound radio broadcasting station or network of stations shall not be liable for any damages for any defamatory statement uttered over the facilities of the station or network by or on behalf of any candidate for public office if the statement is not subject to censorship or control by reason of any federal statute or any ruling or order of the federal communications commission made pursuant thereto, provided, however, that this section shall not apply to any owner, licensee or operator of a visual or sound radio broadcasting station, or network of stations when the owner, licensee, or operator is a candidate for public office or speaking on behalf of a candidate for public office.

(B) The owner, licensee, or operator shall not be liable for any damages for any defamatory statement published or uttered in or as a part of a visual or sound radio broadcast by one other than the owner, licensee, or operator, or agent or employee thereof, if the owner, licensee, or operator proves that the owner, licensee, or operator exercised reasonable care to prevent the publication or utterance of the statement in such broadcast time.

(C) If any broadcasting station, at any time, broadcasts, publishes, or circulates any false statement, allegation, or rumor pertaining or relating to any individual or association of individuals, to any trade, labor, business, social, economic or religious organization, to any firm, corporation, or business, or to any public official or candidate for a public office, the broadcasting station, upon demand of any person or persons affected or of their representatives, shall broadcast any statement setting forth in proper language the truth pertaining to the statement, allegation, or rumor, which said person or persons or their representatives shall offer to the broadcasting station for broadcast.

(D) Whenever demand has been made for the broadcast of a statement under division (C) of this section, the broadcasting station shall broadcast the statement within forty-eight hours following the receipt of the statement. The statement shall be phrased in proper language and be broadcast without any additions to, or omissions from it, in as prominent a manner and at as prominent a time as the original broadcast to which the statement relates. The broadcasting station shall broadcast the statements without cost to such persons or their representatives; and the broadcast may be proved at the trial of a suit for damages as a mitigating circumstance to reduce damages, provided that any voluntary broadcast made without demand may be used to rebut any presumption of malice or injury on the part of the station growing out of the original broadcast to which the same related. This section does not prevent the injured party from alleging and proving actual malice on the part of the owner, licensee, or operator, and any special damages resulting to the injured party therefrom.

(E) Every statement that broadcasting stations are required to broadcast under division (C) of this section shall be sworn to by the person offering the statement for broadcast, but the certificate of the notary or other official showing that the statement was so made under oath shall not be broadcast.

Whoever purposely swears falsely to any such statement is guilty of falsification in violation of section 2921.13 of the Revised Code.

No broadcasting station shall be held liable in any civil or criminal proceedings for anything in any such statement.

(F) No broadcasting station shall refuse or fail to broadcast and circulate any statement or article if true as required by division (C) of this section.

(G) Any person responsible for refusing to broadcast and circulate any statement mentioned in division (C) of this section shall be fined as provided in division (H) of section 2739.99 of the Revised Code.

The prosecuting attorney of the county in which the broadcasting station is located when complaint is made to the prosecuting attorney in writing of the refusal or failure of any such broadcasting station or persons to comply with divisions (C), (D), (E), (F), and (G) of this section, relative to the broadcasting of such statements, shall investigate the complaint and upon reasonable cause shall begin proceedings against the broadcasting station or person and prosecute the same.

Cite as R.C. § 2739.03

Effective Date: 07-01-1996

2739.04 Disclosure of new source.

No person engaged in the work of, or connected with, or employed by any noncommercial educational or commercial radio broadcasting station, or any noncommercial educational or commercial television broadcasting station, or network of such stations, for the purpose of gathering, procuring, compiling, editing, disseminating, publishing, or broadcasting news shall be required to disclose the source of any information procured or obtained by such person in the course of his employment, in any legal proceeding, trial, or investigation before any court, grand jury, petit jury, or any officer thereof, before the presiding officer of any tribunal, or his agent, or before any commission, department, division, or bureau of this state, or before any county or municipal body, officer, or committee thereof.

Every noncommercial educational or commercial radio broadcasting station, and every noncommercial educational or commercial television broadcasting station shall maintain for a period of six months from the date of its broadcast thereof, a record of those statements of information the source of which was procured or obtained by persons employed by the station in gathering, procuring, compiling, editing, disseminating, publishing, or broadcasting news.

As used in this section:

(A) "Record" includes a tape, disc, script, or any other item or document that sets forth the content of the statements that are required by this section to be recorded.

(B) "Noncommercial educational television or radio broadcasting station" means a television or radio broadcast station that is licensed by the federal communications commission as a noncommercial educational radio or television broadcast station, transmits only noncommercial programs for educational purposes, and is owned and operated by:

(1) A public agency or institution or nonprofit private foundation, corporation, or association;

(2) A municipal corporation.

Cite as R.C. § 2739.04

Effective Date: 11-11-1977

2739.11 Newspaper defined.

Any person, firm, partnership, voluntary association, joint-stock association, or corporation, wherever organized or incorporated, engaged in the business of printing or publishing a newspaper, magazine, or other periodical sold or offered for sale in this state, in a newspaper company, and any such newspaper, magazine, or other periodical publication is a newspaper within the meaning of sections 2739.13 to 2739.18 , inclusive, of the Revised Code.

Cite as R.C. § 2739.11

Effective Date: 10-01-1953

2739.12 Newspaper reporters not required to reveal source of information.

No person engaged in the work of, or connected with, or employed by any newspaper or any press association for the purpose of gathering, procuring, compiling, editing, disseminating, or publishing news shall be required to disclose the source of any information procured or obtained by such person in the course of his employment, in any legal proceeding, trial, or investigation before any court, grand jury, petit jury, or any officer thereof, before the presiding officer of any tribunal, or his agent, or before any commission, department, division, or bureau of this state, or before any county or municipal body, officer or committee thereof.

Cite as R.C. § 2739.12

Effective Date: 10-01-1953

2739.13 Correction of false statement formerly published.

If any newspaper company, at any time, prints, publishes, or circulates any false statement, allegation, or rumor relating to any individual or association of individuals, or to any trade, labor, business, social, economic, or religious organization or to any firm, corporation, or business, or to any public official or candidate for a public office, such company upon demand of any persons affected or of their representatives, shall print, publish, and circulate any statement or article setting forth in proper language the truth pertaining to such statement, allegation, or rumor, which such persons or their representatives, shall offer to such company for publication.

Cite as R.C. § 2739.13

Effective Date: 10-01-1953

2739.14 Publishing corrected statements.

Whenever demand has been made for the publication of statements or articles under section 2739.13 of the Revised Code, the newspaper company shall print and circulate the same in the next regular issue or within forty-eight hours following the receipt of such statement or article. Such statement or article shall be phrased in proper language and be printed without any additions to, or omissions therefrom, in the same color of ink, from like type, with headlines of equal prominence, occupying a like space in the same portion of the newspaper as was used in printing the original article complained of, and shall be given the same publicity in all respects and, as nearly as possible, the same circulation as such original article. Such company shall print and publish such statements or articles without cost to such persons or their representatives; and such publication may be proved at the trial of a suit for damages as a mitigating circumstance to reduce damages, provided that any voluntary publication made without demand may be used to rebut any presumption of malice or injury on the part of such company growing out of the original publication to which the same related. This section does not prevent the injured party from alleging and proving actual malice on the part of the publisher and any special damages resulting to him therefrom.

Cite as R.C. § 2739.14

Effective Date: 10-01-1953

2739.15 Published statements shall be sworn to.

(A) Every statement or article that newspaper companies are required to publish under sections 2739.13 to 2739.18 of the Revised Code shall be sworn to by the person offering the statement or article for publication, but the certificate of the notary or other official showing that the statement or article was so made under oath shall not be published.

(B) Whoever purposely swears falsely to any statement or article that newspaper companies are required to publish under those sections is guilty of perjury in violation of section 2921.11 of the Revised Code.

(C) No newspaper company shall be held liable in any civil or criminal proceedings for anything in any statement or article that newspaper companies are required to publish under those sections.

Cite as R.C. § 2739.15

Effective Date: 07-01-1996

2739.16 Refusal or failure to publish.

(A) No newspaper company shall refuse or fail to print, publish, and circulate any statement or article if true as required by sections 2739.13 to 2739.18 of the Revised Code.

(B) Any person responsible for refusing to print, publish, and circulate any statement or article mentioned in division (A) of this section shall be fined as provided in division (B) of section 2739.99 of the Revised Code.

The prosecuting attorney of the county in which the newspaper is published, when complaint is made to the prosecuting attorney in writing of the refusal or failure of any newspaper company or persons to comply with sections 2739.13 to 2739.18 of the Revised Code, relative to the publication of such statements or articles, shall investigate the complaint and upon reasonable cause shall begin proceedings against the newspaper company or person and prosecute the same.

Cite as R.C. § 2739.16

Effective Date: 07-01-1996

2739.17 [Repealed].

Cite as R.C. § 2739.17

Effective Date: 07-01-1996

2739.18 Prohibition against threats of publication to influence official action.

No newspaper company, or owner, officer, editor, writer, or representative thereof, shall attempt improperly to influence any public official for or against any public measure or official action by threats of publication of articles derogatory to such public official, or seek improperly to influence such public official on the floor or in the cloakrooms or committee rooms of any general assembly or other legislative body, to which he has access because of his connection with the newspaper, for or against any proposed law, ordinance, or other legislative act.

Cite as R.C. § 2739.18

Effective Date: 10-01-1953

2739.99 Penalty.

(A) Whoever violates division (A) of section 2739.16 of the Revised Code shall be fined not more than one thousand dollars.

(B) Whoever violates division (B) of section 2739.16 of the Revised Code shall be fined not more than five hundred dollars.

(C) Whoever violates section 2739.18 of the Revised Code shall be fined not more than one thousand dollars, imprisoned not more than one year, or both.

(D) Whoever violates division (F) of section 2739.03 of the Revised Code shall be fined not more than one thousand dollars.

(E) Whoever violates division (G) of section 2739.03 of the Revised Code shall be fined not more than five hundred dollars.

Cite as R.C. § 2739.99

Effective Date: 07-01-1996