Once again this year we decided to weigh the September issues. Without access to ad page data, book size becomes an increasingly more important indicator than in years past. And this year, the indicator is not good. September was always the one time when these publications truly believed big is beautiful, but they are starting to become as petite as those who grace their covers. To conduct this research we went out and procured the magazines the old fashioned way—on the newsstand. Here’s the rather disturbing thing: they weren’t all that easy to find. We visited a few different newsstands, asked the clerks about them, and were met with a blank stares. It wasn’t until we visited a major book retailer were we able to purchase all nine titles. Perhaps that alone is a telling enough indicator that the September issues don’t carry the weight they once did. Nevertheless, we still walked out of the store with nine magazines that weighed in at nearly 15 pounds (plus we got a really cool commemorative tote for buying Vogue). Still, that’s a loss of nearly five cumulative pounds versus last year. Nobody will congratulate these titles for their dramatic weight losses. Click Read More below for more of the story.
The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform has demanded that the U.S. Postal Service deliver it a detailed accounting of cost allocations for its competitive products, alleging that the agency may be in violation of the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act (PAEA) by using revenues from market dominant products to prop up its shipping business.
“Opportunities for unlawful cross-subsidization exist in a number of areas. In fact, some of the Postal Service’s actions and public statements have heightened the Committee’s concerns about cross-subsidization,” said a letter addressed to Postmaster General Megan Brennan on May 13 and signed by Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) and Mark Meadows (R-NC), chairman of the subcommittee on Government Operations.
The letter singled out funding of the USPS’s expanding shipping activities as the focus of its inquiry. “Given that Postal Service ‘package delivery’ products are almost solely competitive in nature, it is important to ensure [that] a bright line separation between marketing dominant products and competitive products is maintained.”
PAEA mandated that products such as package and shipping be self-supportive to keep them on a level playing field with public sector competitors like FedEx and UPS. It also required competitive businesses to cover a 5.5% share of institutional costs incurred by the entire postal network.
To learn whether USPS is complying with these mandates, Chaffetz and Meadows made eight requests of Brennan, including an explanation of how costs would be distributed for the purchase of new delivery vehicles, an explanation of why the percentage of competitive product cost attribution has declined since PAEA was passed, and the methodology for attributing costs for Sunday delivery of Amazon packages.
Both FedEx and UPS have filed comments with the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) over the past year, calling attention to what they perceive as unfair advantages for the government regulated monopoly.