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Newspapers and the U.S. Postal Service
The relationship between newspapers and the post office is as old as the nation. Indeed, the first Postmaster General, Benjamin Franklin, was a newspaper publisher. Today, newspapers continue to rely on the U.S. Postal Service for distribution of many of its products. Newspapers today are among the leading local users of postal services across all classes of mail. Daily newspapers’ use of the postal system has particularly grown in the area of Standard Mail, where spending on postage has increased to nearly $800 million in 2008, from $600 million in 2002.
Although small market daily and weekly newspapers often use Periodicals mail for delivery of their publications, by far the mail class that newspapers use the most is Standard Mail. Newspapers now go directly to their advertisers with a "Total Market Coverage” solution which reaches everyone: with an insert in the core print newspaper to subscribers, in conjunction with the delivery of that same insert in the mail to all non-subscribers.
A major factor affecting newspaper ad rates and revenues (and ultimately the amount of editorial content in newspapers) are postal rates – in particular, the rates for what are known as Saturation and High-Density mail. Saturation rates are used by the national Saturation mailers that compete directly with newspapers in a local market. Most newspapers use High-Density rates – which require fewer mailed pieces per postal carrier route – to mail TMC products. High-Density rates are much higher than Saturation rates, and, over time, the U.S. Postal Service has increased the gap between Saturation and High-Density rates from approximately 1 cent to 2.6 cents.
As a result of these rate increases on newspapers’ TMC products, daily newspapers have moved approximately $120 million in TMC mail out of the postal system into alternative delivery (independent carriers).
NAA is working with USPS management to educate them on impact of rates and policies on daily newspaper use of the mail and to identify ways to make it attractive for newspaper TMC products to stay in or come back to the nation’s postal system.