Commentary

Publishers Seek Relief On Postal Rates During COVID-19 Crisis

The News Media Alliance this week asked the U.S. Postal Service to adopt measures to cut mailing costs amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The trade group, which represents almost 2,000 news organizations, is part of a coalition that asked the postal service to cut rates by five cents for each mailed item. The measure would last 90 days, but could be extended if the COVID-19 crisis persists, according to a joint letter from the coalition.

"We are in uncharted waters and bold action is needed, and ask that we quickly schedule a conference call to discuss what affirmative steps we can take," the letter dated March 31 reads.

The coalition also asked for deferred collections of postage payments for customers with Centralized Account Payment System (CAPS) and the newer Enterprise Payment System (EPS) accounts. The electronic payments systems are geared for commercial and nonprofit mailers.

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In addition, the group asked for seasonal incentives to boost mail volume and to avoid increasing outbound international rates as the pandemic disrupt those mailings.

Postage rates again have been hotly debated with the Postal Regulatory Commission, which oversees the postal service, weighs changes to rates that publishers pay for mailings.

Last month, the MPA - the Association of Magazine Media was among a coalition of trade groups that asked the Postal Regulatory Commission to withdraw a proposed rate increase, claiming it would backfire on the postal service by reducing mail volume.

While the postal service faces its own financial crisis, the U.S. government is unlikely to let a vital part of the country's infrastructure collapse into bankruptcy. In a major crisis like the current pandemic, any help the organization can provide to publishers is welcome.

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