Commentary

USPS Claims Mail Slowdown Will Affect Sliver Of Publications

The United States Postal Service last week began implementing a slowdown in mail delivery as part of its longer-term plan to cut costs. Only 9% of publications are now being delivered in as many as five days, while 93% will still be delivered in two days or less, according to a fact sheet published by the agency.

The disruption may offer publishers at least some consolation amid rising prices for postage that took effect on August 29. Trade groups, including the National Newspaper Association and News Media Alliance, have objected to the postage hikes, arguing they will disproportionately affect publishers coping with other financial pressures.

The groups filed a petition to delay increases in postage rates, which the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit denied on August 26. The case is ongoing, with a decision expected before the end of this year.
The USPS hasn’t show any sign of relenting on more rate increases in the next few years. Two weeks ago, it filed a schedule for price hikes that said prices will remain steady until July 10. The schedule isn’t binding, opening the possibility that it won’t raise postage rates on periodicals.
Ideally, the USPS can find other ways to reduce its project operating losses without punishing publishers that rely on the agency for distribution — at least until they boost their digital revenue and earnings.

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