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End Saturday Mail Delivery?

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 By Renee ShawContact
August 23, 2010

LEXINGTON, Ky. - Would ending Saturday mail delivery exacerbate the decline of rural communities? That's the contention of Al Cross, director of the University of Kentucky Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues. He testified recently to the U.S. Postal Regulatory Commission on the Postal Service's proposal to go to five-day delivery late this year, eliminating Saturday mail service.

Cross's written testimony was submitted on behalf of the National Newspaper Association. He contends that rural Americans reside further from post offices than their city cousins, and rely more on mail delivery for products and services.

"The mail is a more important part of the civic infrastructure in rural American than it is in suburban or urban America. Those localities have more resources of information, communication and transportation."

Cross says ending Saturday mail would be devastating to newspapers that still rely on the Post Office for delivery. And he says reading the news online is not a good option or substitute.

"The Internet and high-speed broadband are not as pervasive in rural America as they are in the rest of the country, and polls indicate that there's a substantial portion of rural Americans who will never adopt the Internet."

With the recession and rise of the Internet leading to the decline of traditional mail, the Postal Service says it can save $3 billion a year by going to a five-day delivery system, as Saturday, the Service says, is the lowest-volume mail day of the week.

The Postal Regulatory Commission is scheduled to hear oral testimony next month and issue an opinion in October. The proposed change to discontinue Saturday delivery could be pre-empted by Congress.

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