Pruitt Asks Congress for Postal Fairness

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By: E&P Staff

McClatchy Co. Chairman, President and CEO Gary Pruitt is urging Congress this morning to level the postal rate playing field for newspapers.

Speaking on behalf of the Newspaper Association of America, Pruitt was to testify at a Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs hearing on postal reform scheduled for 9:30 a.m. EST Thursday.

In a transcript of prepared remarks, Pruitt urged the committee to treat all mailers, small and large, as equals and let all mailers be included for discounted rates. He pointed out that newspapers compete with direct mailers for advertising. “Unfortunately, over the years this competition with other mailers has served as a source of considerable friction between newspapers and the Postal Service,” Pruitt said in the transcript. “Newspapers do not believe that the Postal Service … should take sides in the marketplace competition between newspapers and other advertising media. Regrettably, experience has led newspapers to believe that the Postal Service has in fact done so by inappropriately choosing to favor our advertising competitors through pricing strategies and new initiatives targeting the advertising revenues upon which we depend to support the news and editorial content of our newspapers.”

Pruitt told the panel that postal services should not be for sale based on negotiating or lobbying skills and instead, he described pricing flexibility that the newspaper industry supports: The Postal Service should be able to set rates within the limits established by an enhanced Postal Regulatory Board, without going through the current lengthy Postal Rate Commission process. The revised system should allow mailers to challenge postal rates before they are put into effect.

In addition, Pruitt told Congress that the industry supports the President’s Commission on the U.S. Postal Service and that this body should be in charge of pricing methodology including implementing an accurate system for sharing and allocating postage costs. “I know of no private business that sets prices without a firm understanding of its costs — surely nothing less should be expected of the Postal Service,” Pruitt said.

Collectively, newspapers spend over $700 million on all classes of mail.

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