Postal Regulatory Commission questions requiring newspapers to enter mail earlier

Dec 1, 2022

The National Newspaper Association today hailed a critical decision by the Postal Regulatory Commission that questions the U.S. Postal Service’s proposed change in critical entry times for Periodicals entered at mail processing plants.

USPS announced earlier this year that it wanted to require mail entry for newspapers and magazines to occur before 8 a.m., rather than 2 p.m. as previously required for a mailing to count on the entry day. If the proposal is enacted, newspapers entered after 8 a.m. will not be considered as part of that day’s mail but will be held for processing until the following day. The Commission said USPS should recognize that its change would cause many Periodicals to lose one day of expected service time.

The NNA and News/Media Alliance were the only organizations that questioned the change at the Commission. N/MA filed evidence indicating that the USPS analysis of impact was flawed. NNA pointed out that the analysis did not fully consider impact upon newspapers because most newspaper mail is not counted in USPS’s service measuring systems.  The Commission took N/MA’s and NNA’s side on several points.

But the Commission can’t stop USPS from making the change. It can only recommend, and it issued several strong suggestions to the Postal Service, some of which had been raised earlier by NNA.

USPS should:

  1. Be more candid that its changes will hurt newspapers and magazines by delaying their mail by a day;
  2. Make it easier for Periodicals that are able to make the shift to 8 a.m. to get appointments at USPS docks to unload early mail;
  3. Collect more data on the market impact of the change; and
  4. Reconsider whether a potentially small benefit to USPS outweighs the harm to newspapers and magazines.

USPS wanted to make the change to free up its bundle and parcel sorting machines earlier in the day so it could handle package shipping earlier. The same equipment that sorts bundles of newspapers and magazines is also used for parcel sorting, but operational changes have to occur during the day to conclude one type of sorting and begin another. USPS had said forcing earlier Periodicals to arrive at plants earlier would help it become more efficient in its package services.

The change is not immediately expected to affect the way newspapers are entered at local post offices, but with more local post offices possibly headed to centralized delivery plants, the 8 a.m. entry time could become reality for many local newspapers.  The change also will not affect 5-digit containers entered at plants, as these containers do not need to be handled by parcel sorters.

NNA Chair John Galer, publisher of the Journal-News in Hillsboro, Illinois, said NNA is working on several initiatives to improve delivery.

“We hope the Postal Service will reconsider this entry change,” Galer said. “Although we don’t see an immediate impact upon most of our members, the implications for us in the future are grave. NNA continues to work directly with USPS management to find some fixes that will help us reach our subscribers faster and avoid some of the body blows that may be coming at us from the many changes ahead at USPS.”