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Postage Shenanigans? - Favorite Mags Could Go Under

April 23, 2007

New York, NY - New Yorker's mailboxes could be looking a little empty later this year. The junk mail will still be there, but niche magazines about hobbies, gardening, cooking, and political analysis may be gone. Postal rate hikes get the blame as high as 30 percent for some. The Nation's Teresa Stack says that's enough to force many out of business. She thinks it's suspicious that the Postal Board of Governors set rates based on recommendations from publishing giants.

"It's crazy. They made all of these really ridiculous changes that the only way you can sort of justify them is that they help the big guys because the big guys were there with their high-priced lawyers. It's interesting that the United States Postal Service was against this proposal."

New York-based publishing giant Time Warner designed the new rate package for magazines, with the biggest hike reserved for smaller companies. Nick Eicher, publisher of World Magazine, a Christian weekly, says the hike is coming too quickly for magazines to pass the cost on to subscribers.

"We've asked the Postal Service to slow this thing down and think about the impact on us and other small magazines. Because of the monopoly power that the Postal Service has, there aren't really any alternatives."

The rationale for the change was that it's fairer, based on company shipping methods. Historically, smaller periodicals have gotten a break to encourage diversity of opinion and balance the advantage enjoyed by larger distributors. Last week, Illinois Rep. Danny Davis called for Congress to hold hearings on the plan because of concerns over job losses and the impact on freedom of speech.

Former Air America CEO Doug Kreeger believes the big postage rate hike for small magazines is another example of big corporations calling the shots in government.

“I don't think it's about magazines. I think it's about how this administration goes to the private sector all the time to solve its problems and the solutions are always self-serving, whether it's big oil, or energy, or whatever it is.”

The hearing will be scheduled in the U.S. House Subcommittee on Federal Workforce, Postal Service & the District of Columbia. Magazine rate hikes due to go into effect July 15.

Learn more about the issue at

Michael Clifford/Eric Mack, Public News Service - NY