Thursday, April 07, 2022

Biden signs postal-reform bill with a 5x increase in the cap on newspaper sample copying, but postage rates going up

Congressional leaders and bill sponsors watch President Biden sign the postal-reform bill.
House sponsors James Comer and Carolyn Maloney are second and third from right, respectively.

Wednesday, President Biden signed a postal-reform bill that "shaves more than $50 billion off the USPS balance sheet. It also extends a new opportunity for newspapers to use mail sampling to reach non-subscribers with promotional copies," says a National Newspaper Association media release. "The Rural Newspaper Sustainability Act, broadening the sampling allowances for Within County newspaper mailers, was included in the PSRA with the sponsorship of Reps. Carolyn Maloney, D-New York; and James Comer, R-Kentucky. It lifts the existing cap on the number of nonsubscriber copies newspapers can mail at the lowest commercial rate from 10 percent of a newspaper’s paid within-county distribution to 50%." The 50% sampling rule is effective immediately.

However, the law doesn't save mailers from steep postage increases. The Postal Service announced yesterday that it would increase periodicals postage rates by an average of 8.5%, effective July 10. "Postmaster General Louis DeJoy this week said the price increases from the USPS Board of Governors would use the full measure of price increase available from the Postal Regulatory Commission," according to another NNA media release. "He said the reason for the big increases was USPS’ continued need for cash to update its vehicle fleet, prepare networks for more packages and make up for losses in earlier years. A small moderation of 0.3% that USPS recognized from the reform bill was offset by rising inflation, postal officials said."

NNA Chair Brett Wesner said that a small bright spot in the periodicals rate hike is that "USPS is finally recognizing the value of our use of flats trays for newspaper containers by passing along a 3.7% increase instead of the nearly 11% for mailing sacks. Increases are never welcomed, but recognition that we are doing a lot to be more efficient is some small relief."

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