Time Warner's Postal Rate Attack on Independent Publishers

I'm gonna go out on a limb here and assume it's very important to everyone that we have a healthy number of small and independent publications in this country. You know, to help keep the big boys honest if they should ever become lax in their duties as the fourth estate (heaven forbid). Unfortunately, it looks like these publications are under a stealth attack, via Common Dreams:

The Post Office is in the process of implementing a radical reformulation of its mailing rates for magazines. Under the plan, smaller periodicals will be hit with a much larger increase than the big magazines, as much as 30 percent. Some of the largest circulation magazines will face hikes of less than 10 percent.

The new rates, which go into effect on July 15, were developed with no public involvement or congressional oversight, and the increased costs could damage hundreds, even thousands, of smaller publications, possibly putting many out of business. This includes nearly every political journal in the nation. These are the magazines that often provide the most original journalism and analysis. These are the magazines that provide much of the content on Common Dreams. We desperately need them.

Now I know the cynical among you might be thinking that this is some sort of move being done by one or more of the big media conglomerates, and you can count me amongst yourselves after reading this:

What the Post Office is planning to do now, in the dark of night, is implement a rate structure that gives the best prices to the biggest publishers, hence letting them lock in their market position and lessen the threat of any new competition. The new rates could make it almost impossible to launch a new magazine, unless it is spawned by a huge conglomerate.

Not surprisingly, the new scheme was drafted by Time Warner, the largest magazine publisher in the nation. All evidence available suggests the bureaucrats responsible have never considered the implications of their draconian reforms for small and independent publishers, or for citizens who depend upon a free press.

If you've been following the issue of net neutrality, just imagine that in this case the postage rates are our broadband lines, which Time Warner wants to squeeze on from the supplier side in order to line their own pockets.

So what to do about this latest outrage?

This process was conducted with such little publicity and pitched only at the dominant players that we only learned about it a few weeks ago and it is very late in the game. But there is something you can do. Please go to www.stoppostalratehikes.com and sign the letter to the Postal Board protesting the new rate system and demanding a congressional hearing before any radical changes are made. The deadline for comments is April 23.

Tags: Common Carrier, magazines, Post Office, Publishing, USPS (all tags)

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