Newspapers asked to turn up heat on Valassis issue

Posted June 20, 2012

National Newspaper Association and Newspaper Association of America have asked the state press associations to encourage members to turn up the heat on the U.S. Postal Service because of its agreement to discount rates for Valassis.

Tonda Rush, executive director of NNA, said the Postal Service proposed a Negotiated Service Agreement with Valassis Inc that would permit it to earn deep postage discounts if it can attract a million new mailpieces into a new package it would start in its “existing” markets. It cannot open new markets for this discount, but the new advertising contracts it will sign may well allow it to open new markets without the discount.

It would have to perform this obligation within a year of its start date. The primary target is local newspapers' insert programs. USPS believes many newspapers have pulled their TMC programs out of the mail and is using this observation as a justification for the deal with Valassis to bring that mail back.

NAA and NNA both filed comments objecting to the proposal, on slightly different but compatible legal arguments.

The Postal Rate Commission last Friday took note of these objections and issued a new order requesting new data from all interested parties. The original deadline of June 22 has now been extended to June 29. Valassis has objected to the extension, arguing that it is being prevented from signing advertising contracts because the case will now continue into July.

“Time is of the essence,” said Doug Anstaett, executive director of the Kansas Press Association. “Please take a few moments right now or no later than the end of the day and fill out the Survey Monkey questionnaire at the link provided below. We have gotten the attention of USPS, as well as a number of our senators and representatives, but we need to send one last blast as the hearings near their end.”