Saturday, June 30, 2007

What Good Is A Democratic Congress If They Allow The Independent Media To Be Shut Down?

In a massive blow against smaller mailers a huge postal rate increase will bankrupt some smaller mailed publications. This increase was snuck into the postal rate deliberations and was even mostly written by Time-Warner. An across the board increase of over 10% was going to be applied to bulk mailers but Time-Warner designed a complex scheme with special provisions that some large media ginats could take advantage of that has small publications facing increases of over 30% while some media giants like itself have their postal fees reduced.

This is similar to the FCC regulation which is about to wipe-out Internet radio by imposing impossible to meet fees for playing music instead of the much smaller fees first proposed. You can protest that here.

What the Hell good is a Democratic congress if people can't listen or read material unless it is from large multinational corporations?

Z Magazine:
The latest bad news for independent print media came over the past few months when the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) announced a complex new payment rate system for mailed periodicals. Following a postal rate increase of about 5 percent last year, publishers had been told to expect another rate increase of around 12 percent this year. Instead, the proposed plan might cost us up to 30-40 percent more.

The new rate system is designed to benefit large media conglomerates, whose mailing cost increases will be far less than smaller, independent publications. Some of the largest publications will even see their postal costs decrease as small publications face massive cost increases. There’s a reason for this—the plan the USPS adopted was largely written by Time Warner Inc., the world’s largest media conglomerate.

Last year, the Postal Service tasked the independent Postal Regulatory Committee (PRC) with coming up with a plan to increase revenues. The USPS itself offered a plan for a periodical rate increase that would have raised costs for all publishers, more or less evenly, by around 12 percent. During the public comment period, Time Warner submitted their proposal.

The Time Warner plan offered various incentives that could only be realized by large publishing groups, such as co-palletizing large numbers of magazines together or drop shipping from within postal zones via centralized printing and distribution centers. Rates for periodicals that could not meet the new incentives would increase dramatically.

To the surprise of many, the PRC announced in late February that it was going with a plan similar to Time Warner’s, instead of adopting what the USPS had originally suggested. In March the USPS allowed only eight days for public comment on the 758-page PRC plan before they adopted it. This plan is so complex that even two months later publishers such as the Nation and Mother Jones have said they still cannot calculate exactly how much more their postal costs will be, though the Nation is currently estimating an increase of perhaps $500,000.
The conservative National Review and the liberal The Nation, email here, and even church publications shocked and surprised by over 30% hikes at the instigation of large media corporationss are urging action against this now. Catalogers and paper manufacturers are also very worried about the financial impact.

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