Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Court allows postage-rate increases to take effect Sunday; newspapers and other mailers will keep up court fight

A federal court is allowing postage-rate increases to take effect as scheduled Sunday, Aug. 29.

The Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit denied a petition by the National Newspaper Association, the News Media Alliance and others to block the increases, averaging 9 percent. They had had argued that the Postal Regulatory Commission’s authorization of the increase was flawed, so it should be delayed until a court decides whether that is the case.

"The court simply issued a statement that the petition was denied, without providing any reasoning for the decision," NNA said in a news release. “The court rarely issues such stays,” NNA Chair Brett Wesner, president of Oklahoma-based Wesner Publications, said in the release. “This was always the longest of long shots to try to delay the increase. We felt the impact of a double-digit increase, between last January’s rate hike and the second one of the year coming this month, was overwhelmingly damaging to community newspapers.”

Wesner added, “This decision does deliver a blow to newspapers that are struggling to stay afloat. It does not diminish the basis of our original lawsuit. The oral argument on that case will proceed on Sept. 13. We expect a decision by the court by the end of the year. That decision could send the whole matter back to the PRC for reconsideration, and the PRC has the authority to roll back this increase if it so chooses. Congress also has the authority to take action here. I think our members have led the industry in reaching out to Congress about the financial distress of USPS and the need for postal reform.”

NNA and other mailers hope for passage of a bipartisan postal-reform bill that would resolve persistent financial issues of the U.S. Postal Service. A summary of the committee-approved bill is circulating among members, indicating that it is being lined up for a vote in the full House. An identical bill has bipartisan support in the Senate. Among the bill's many provisions is a huge expansion of newspapers' ability to mail sample copies to non-subscribers, a potentially great boon at a time of declining print circulation, which remains the principal source of revenue for almost all newspapers.

No comments: