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Senator Bernie Sanders: Sanders: Stamp Out Postal Rate Hikes

May 1, 2007
8:00 AM

CONTACT: Senator Bernie Sanders 
Michael Briggs (202) 224-5141

Sanders: Stamp Out Postal Rate Hikes

WASHINGTON - May 1 – Senator Bernie Sanders said today that he was deeply concerned about new mailing rates which will raise mailing costs significantly for small to medium-size publications.

Sanders expressed concern that, at a time when fewer and fewer large media conglomerates control the flow of information in our country, these rate increases for small publications will make it harder for them to stay in business and may lead to even more media concentration of ownership. Sanders is working on a legislative strategy to counteract the Postal Service action.

“This rate increase is tantamount to a tax on free speech,” Sanders said.

“The Postal Regulatory Commission has turned its back on American history and on the founders’ faith in the importance of protecting the free flow of ideas,” Sanders added.

Altogether, about 5,700 small-circulation publications could incur rate increases from 20 percent to more than 30 percent if the new rates take affect as scheduled on July 15, according to a study by the publisher McGraw Hill.

Diverse periodicals from the political left, right and center -- such as The Nation, Mother Jones, The New Republic, The Weekly Standard, and the American Spectator -- would bear the brunt of new postage charges on magazines under a rate system adopted at the urging of media giant Time-Warner.

The publisher of more than 100 magazines including People and Fortune, Time-Warner would have fared worse under an earlier Postal Service proposal. At the media giant’s urging, the original plan was rejected by the Postal Regulatory Commission and the Postal Service Board of Governors.

The rate structure that helps Time-Warner will hurt the smaller publications disproportionately, according to preliminary estimates. The Nation could see mailing costs for the premier progressive publication soar by $500,000, while the conservative National Review is looking at a $100,000 spike in its costs.

“The rate increase was devised by Time Warner will have an adverse effect on smaller periodicals, while easing the postal burden on the largest magazines,” according to Free Press, an organization that has coalesced to fight the postal rate plan that it said “goes against more than 200 years of postal policy, which has promoted the spread of diverse periodicals in competitive markets as a means to foster a free press and inform and engage citizens.”

As the Boston Globe concluded in an April 27 editorial, “Congress should take a fresh look, and pursue a more public-minded rate plan.”


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