Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Return to Sender: Congress Takes Up Unfair Postal Rate Hikes

From Free Press, October 30, 2007

A key House Subcommittee will look into the devastating impact of new postal rate hikes on independent publications, including some of the country’s most important political journals.

In March 2007, the Postal Board of Governors, the body that regulates postal policy in the United States, voted to drastically hike postal rates on small and independent periodicals. The new rates — which are based on a proposal submitted by Time Warner — unfairly shift the burden of postal costs from magazines like Time and People with large circulations and heavy advertising onto smaller publications.

“The impact of the new postal rate increase on the flow of ideas and opinions in America is likely to be significant,” said Victor Navasky, chairman of the Columbia Journalism Review and publisher emeritus of The Nation. “Precisely those magazines that devote the most space to public affairs — to covering in-depth events like the hearings today — are being put in serious jeopardy.”

Navasky will testify before the Subcommittee on the Federal Workforce, Postal Service and the District of Columbia alongside Jeff Hollingsworth, vice president of Eagle Publishing, which produces Human Events and the Evans-Novak Political Report, among other publications.

“The postal regulators have given small publishers a nasty trick, not a treat, and it’s not funny at all,” Hollingsworth said. “Regrettably, all too often when it comes to dealings with government, it’s not about what it can do for you, but what it can do to you. Such is the case with the latest in a dizzying round of postal rate increases.”

Navasky and Hollingsworth will be representing a coalition of publications — which also includes The National Review, Mother Jonesz, The Weekly Standard and Ms. — that faces rate increases of as much as 20-30 percent. The hike will cost these publications hundreds of thousands of dollars, forcing the magazines to make significant cutbacks or even go out of business.

Working with the national, nonpartisan media policy group Free Press, publishers have alerted their readers about the threat from the unfair rate hikes. Nearly 100,000 concerned citizens have contacted their members of Congress via Free Press’ StopPostalRateHikes.com Web site.

“These unjust rate hikes go against more than 200 years of postal policy,” said Ben Scott, policy director of Free Press. “Our founders understood that a diversity of political speech and opinion was essential to the robust political debate that sustains our democracy. That debate has never been more important than it is today. Congress should act swiftly to restore fairness to the system and protect these vital publications.”

For more information, visit www.StopPostalRateHikes.com

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