Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Speaking freely has its costs

Something's up when The Nation and National Review get together. According to Free Press, Time Warner is lobbying the Postal Regulatory Commission for a postal increase that would lead to smaller, independent publications paying a higher rate than larger magazines.

Free Press and the indie mags are calling this a free speech issue:
Thomas Jefferson supported this with calls for a postal service that allowed citizens to gain "full information of their affairs," where ideas could "penetrate the whole mass of the people." Along with James Madison, he paved the way for a service that gave smaller political journals a voice. Their solution included low-cost mailing incentives whereby publications could reach as many readers as possible.

Other founders soon came to understand that the press as a political institution needed to be supported through favorable postal rates. President George Washington spoke out for free postage for newspapers through the mail, and Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton -- no proponent of government deficit -- conceded that incentives were necessary to spawn a viable press.

Apparently, the PRC rejected the USPS rate increase plan.
Under the original plan, all publishers would have a mostly equal increase (approx. 12 percent) in the cost for mailing their publications. The Time Warner plan overturned this level playing field to favor large, ad-heavy magazines like People at the expense of smaller publications like In These Times and The American Spectator. It penalizes thousands of small- to medium-sized outlets with disproportionately higher rates while locking in privileges for bigger companies.

The PRC has aligned itself with a media giant in an apparent effort to stifle smaller media in America.

Andy in Harrisburg



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