Stuff We Sell

Postal Rate Hike VS. Independent Media (Us!)

04.23.07

The USPS has announced a controversial new postal rate policy, set to begin taking effect on May 14, which will drastically raise the rates most used by small press and independent mail-order businesses while reserving the most favorable rates for the giant media corporations The USPS has announced a controversial new postal rate policy, set to begin taking effect on May 14, which will drastically raise the rates most used by small press and independent mail-order businesses while reserving the most favorable rates for the giant media corporations. Historically the United States Post Office has recognized its role and responsibility as a publicly subsidized vehicle of democracy by offering favorable rates to individuals and small companies who send out printed and recorded media. Media Mail rates are kept lower to encourage the distribution of news, ideas, art, and the independent voices that are necessary for a democracy to function. In a stunning new decision it seems the USPS has been pressured by major media lobbyists to reverse this course and place the burden of future rate increases on the backs of small business.

According to a letter written by The Nation president, Teresa Stack, " in May 2006 the United States Postal Service proposed a rate increase for periodicals of about 11.7 percent, an increase that would have affected all periodicals more or less equally. Instead, in February the PRC (Postal Regulatory Commission) recommended a version of the rate proposal put forward by Time Warner, which had previously been rejected by the PRC and strongly opposed by the USPS. This proposal would have a disproportionately adverse effect on small national publications while easing the burden on the largest magazines. The decision was followed by an industry "comment period" of only eight working days, an impossibly short time for small publications to digest changes so complex that to this day there is no definitive computer model to fully assess them. Nonetheless, the new rates are scheduled to take effect (no later than) July 15."

We at Dischord have always tried to keep the prices of our records as low as possible because we feel strongly that people should be treated fairly and encouraged to experiment with new sounds and ideas. Since the price of our mail-order records has always included domestic shipping charges these new rates will have an immediate adverse affect on our ability to maintain our current mail-order structure. Rather than the 11.7 % increase first proposed, our costs are scheduled to go up 20-30% for our most basic service. We have resisted raising our prices along with previous postal rate increases but with the current changes it is likely that we will have to either raise our prices significantly or do away with our "Postage Paid" (free shipping) mailing policy.

Although these policies affect us directly, the effects extend well beyond Dischord Records and our artists. These policies will be especially chilling to the many independent magazines, newspapers, record labels, etc. who have had to rely more heavily on direct support from subscribers as media distributors consolidate into large one-stops and drop smaller titles from store racks. We'll have more news on how we decide to address this in the near future but In the meantime we encourage you to read more about these policy changes and voice your support for independent media.

Read Teresa Stack's letter at: http://www.thenation.com/doc/20070507/stack
Learn what you can do to voice your opposition at: http://www.stoppostalratehikes.com



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