PLEASE MR. POSTMAN
If a proposed postal rate hike goes though on July 15, small, independently-owned publications will see huge increases that may put them out of business. Yet larger magazines will see smaller hikes.
Instead of going with the modest increases recommended by the Postal Service, the Postal Board of Governors chose to implement a complex, difficult-to-understand plan submitted by Time Warner -- the nation's largest magazine publisher.
Small publications such as In These Times will see hikes from 15 to 30 percent (The Nation's will be 18 percent, or a half million dollars over the increase proposed by the Postal Service), while larger ones such as those owned by Time Warner will get a discount.
“It has the effect of making it much more expensive for small publisher to pay for postage,” says University of Illinois communications professor Robert McChesney, who is also the president and co-founder of the media reform organization Free Press.
The change has gone through without any public input or debate or congressional oversight – which is unusal for the Postal Service. Since its inception, US postal policy has been skewed to make it cheaper for smaller publications to get launched and survive; the principle, put into place by James Madison and Thomas Jefferson, was to use postal rates to even out the playing field to ensure a diversity of viewpoints were available to "the whole mass of the people."
McChesney and others have been pushing for Congress to hold hearings before the increase is finalized. US Rep. Danny Davis (D-Chicago) has promised a legislative hearing in Washington, and a public hearing is tentatively scheduled in Chicago on May 31; for details contact Davis’ office at 773-533-7520. To sign a letter protesting the hike, go to stoppostalratehikes.com.
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