The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

April 12, 2013

Postal Service decision maintains the status quo

By Wendy Holdren
Register-Herald Reporter

BECKLEY — While the U.S. Postal Service’s announcement Wednesday to continue Saturday mail delivery would seemingly be great news for West Virginia newspapers, the West Virginia Press Association said Saturday delivery is not the biggest issue.

WVPA Executive Director said the new decision maintains the status quo.

“Unfortunately, our newspapers’ greatest issue with the U.S. Postal Service wasn’t the proposed loss of Saturday delivery,” Smith said. “It has been the timely delivery of all classes of mail and special rates that the USPS offers individuals and customers.”

Smith said newspapers and the USPS can be a great working relationship, “but only if both sides of the arrangement are willing to recognize the needs of the other, work to ensure fast and affordable service and don’t enter into special arrangements that create a financial disadvantage.”

“I fear this decision will lead to the USPS looking at more special rate arrangements with private companies or industries. We will have to monitor the ongoing changes.”

If the Postal Service had decided to eliminate Saturday mail delivery, Smith said the direct impact on West Virginia newspapers would not have been as dramatic as was first feared.

“West Virginia’s weekly newspapers use the U.S. Postal Service for a great percentage of their delivery. Fortunately, none of our weeklies mail on Saturdays, so the change would not have hurt them. Our dailies and our three-day-a-week newspapers would have been impacted. However, the percentage of mail subscriptions is much less than with the weeklies, so those newspapers would not have been as greatly impacted.”

The Postal Service said in February that it planned to switch to five-day-a-week deliveries beginning in August for everything except packages as a way to hold down losses.

According to a release from the Postal Service Board of Governors, “By including restrictive language in the Continuing Resolution, Congress has prohibited implementation of a new national delivery schedule for mail and packages.”

“Although disappointed with this Congressional action, the Board will follow the law and has directed the Postal Service to delay implementation of its new delivery schedule until legislation is passed that provides the Postal Service with the authority to implement a financially appropriate and responsible delivery schedule. The Board believes that Congress has left it with no choice but to delay this implementation at this time. The Board also wants to ensure that customers of the Postal Service are not unduly burdened by ongoing uncertainties and are able to adjust their business plans accordingly.”

The Board continues to support the transition to a new national delivery schedule, which will generate approximately $2 billion in annual cost savings.

The transition “is a necessary part of a larger five-year business plan to restore the Postal Service to long-term financial stability,” according to the Board.