When the USPS responded on March 12 to the first denial of its January 15 rate proposals, newspapers learned that the new proposal would have disproportionately increased the rates for Total Market Coverage (TMC) Products that are mailed at High Density Plus rates.
Briefly, USPS proposed a 5.75% increase in the per-piece charge for flats packages weighing over 3.3 ounces. Depending upon the carrier route, newspapers’ TMC packages typically weigh above 3.3 ounces.
The threat to newspapers’ vitality was made worse because of trends in the newspaper industry to replace declining subscription revenues with advertising revenues. Advertisements have added to newspapers’ weight, making it more likely they would prove high density.
The National Newspaper Association (NAA) took the lead in responding. As it indicates in its own report of what happened next:
“In response to this dramatic and surprising increase on heavier weight TMCs, NAA contacted Postal Service officials to express concerns and remind them that, in 2014, USPS lowered rated for High Density Plus mail by 11 percent in an effort to encourage newspapers to keep TMSs in the nations’ postal system and not shift this mail to private delivery. To its credit, the Postal Service recognized that the 5.75 percent per-piece would have had the effect of reversing the ‘stay-in-the-mail’ incentive USPS had implemented in the previous year. On April 16, USPS submitted revised rates to the Postal Regulatory Commission that replaced the 5.75 percent per piece increased with a below rate-of-inflation 1.2 percent increase.”