PRC to Hear Periodicals Rate Complaint

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Over the U.S. Postal Service's objection, the Postal Rate Commission agreed to hold hearings concerning a complaint filed by a coalition of large commercial publishers that called for a radical revamping of the rate structure for periodicals, the PRC said March 26.

In the filing Jan. 12, publishers such as Time Warner, Conde Nast Publications, Reader's Digest Association, Newsweek and TV Guide Magazine Group proposed to study periodicals rates, conduct hearings on the topic and issue a plan for an alternative periodicals rate schedule to the USPS Board of Governors.

The mailers want approval by the USPS to take over more mail outsourcing work from the postal service in exchange for cheaper mailing rates. In general, large periodicals mailers support this concept, and smaller ones do not.

In its response, issued Feb. 11, the USPS opposed the complaint on procedural grounds. It asks the PRC to deny the complaint because the complainants have not proved that the current rates violate the Postal Reorganization Act.

The USPS also said that though it "shares many of the concerns of the complainants, it is actively pursuing potential initiatives that would advance the goals of efficiency in periodicals while attempting to actively address issues important to smaller-volume mailers. In that way, the postal service hopes to achieve the shared goals of more efficient rate design and fairness and equity of periodical mailers as a whole."

The PRC, however, announced its intent to hold hearings "to determine whether the allegations in the complaint are valid." The commission said that if it finds the complaint is valid, it will issue a recommended decision on classification changes, but the decision will not include a rate recommendation.

The deadline to file notices of intervention is May 21, the PRC said.

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