Inside the Beltway : January 2011


USPS Rate Increase Effective April 17

The U.S. Postal Service has filed new mailing service rates with the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC), which, if approved, would go into effect on April 17. Rate increases are limited to the Consumer Price Index (CPI) cap of 1.74%, consistent with the Postal Law of 2006.

Apart from a few exceptions, overall rate increases for each class cannot be above the CPI cap, but individual rate cells within a class of mail can be lower or higher than the 1.74%. Therefore, percentage rate increases for various products and services within a class, such as Periodicals, may vary, which is what occurred with this increase.

ABM Postal Consultant Jack Widener has compiled a list of increases for Periodicals that vary from the 1.74% and may apply to ABM member mailings:

  1. Periodicals overall increased 1.74% with outside county rates increasing 1.8% and inside county rates 1.1%.
  2. Carrier route increased 1.7% for in-county and 2.2% for outside-county.  High-density publications or publications that co-mail (are combined with other publications in the same package) will be most affected.
  3. Bundle rates, on average, increased 1.5 %, but: 

     A. ADC and three-digit/SCF bundles on an ADC Pallet or sack increased 1.6 to 1.8%.
     B. Firm bundles in a mixed ADC sack increased 1.7%.
     C. Three-digit/SCF bundles on a three-digit/SCF pallet increased 1.6%.
     (A, B and C are rate cells that small- to medium-volume b-to-b publications fall into more often.)

Stay tuned to Inside the Beltway as developments unfold, or contact Jack Widener directly for more information.



ABM to Submit Comments on FTC, Commerce Privacy Reports

In last month’s issue of Inside the BeltwayABM announced the release of privacy reports from both the Federal Trade Commission – which dismissed self-regulation of online behavioral advertising as inadequate and advocated the creation of a new browser-based "Do Not Track" mechanism in its place – and the Department of Commerce – which supported notice and choice policies in line with what most ABM members already provide and generally applauded industry self-regulatory efforts to date. While both reports are advisory in nature, recent activity suggests that the legislative and regulatory policy battles regarding online privacy will continue well into this year. 

ABM has developed comments to both reports within its Information Policy Committee on behalf of the b-to-b industry. Click here to view ABM’s comments on the Commerce report, filed Friday. Comments will be filed with the FTC by its February 18th deadline.

Meanwhile, the ad industry's self-regulatory privacy initiative advanced earlier this month, with additional marketers and compliance companies set to start deploying new icons that aim to inform Web users about online ad targeting. TRUSTe announced on January 20th that it had been approved by the Digital Advertising Alliance to provide the behavioral advertising icons indicating that ads are being served based on data collected from consumers as they surf the Web.

The icon, a lower-case “I” inside a triangle, is aimed at notifying consumers about behavioral advertising, or tracking users and sending them ads based on sites visited, and allowing them to opt out. Industry self-regulatory principles call for such notifications when behaviorally-targeted ads appear, but, according to MediaPost, actually deploying the icons is proving technologically complex.

The association will continue to monitor and lobby on both the regulatory and legislative fronts regarding online privacy, tracking and behavioral advertising.

For more on behavioral advertising, click here to read a comprehensive memo prepared last month by Mark Sableman, ABM’s information policy counsel.



Verizon Files Suit Against FCC on Net Neutrality

On January 20, Verizon Communications filed an appeal in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, challenging the Federal Communications Commission’s updated policy on net neutrality.
The new rules seek to prevent broadband providers from degrading or blocking competing online services, but have been dismissed by critics as unnecessary government overreach.

“Today’s filing is the result of a careful review of the FCC’s order,” Verizon's senior vice president and deputy general counsel, Michael Glover, said in a statement. “We are deeply concerned by the FCC’s assertion of broad authority for sweeping new regulation of broadband networks and the Internet itself.” Verizon, he added, views the agency as having gone “well beyond any authority provided by Congress.”



Do Not Mail Legislation Introduced in New York, Indiana

Two State bills were introduced earlier this month that would effectively set up Do Not Mail registries in New York and Indiana; these represent the first we have seen in two years.

New York State Senator Kruger (D-NY) has reintroduced his two DNM bills from 2009. Senate Bill 1958 regulates persons who advertise using unsolicited written communications; requires advertising entities to maintain an exclusion list; and authorizes a cause of action to enjoin unwanted solicitation. SB 2063 directs the New York Consumer Protection Board to establish a registry of consumers who do not want to receive unsolicited direct mail marketing. The bill also directs the board to provide a way for consumers to register via a toll-free telephone number.

In Indiana, SB 514 has been introduced, which amends the state do not call statute to include "mail sent by United States mail." The bill was introduced by Senator Vi Simpson (D-Bloomington) and has been referred to the Judiciary Committee, but no hearing date has been set.

ABM's position is to oppose Do Not Mail initiatives because such initiatives could decrease mail volume and drive up postal rates. ABM works actively through the Mail Moves America Coalition in Washington to oppose local, state and federal Do Not Mail initiatives.



Postmaster General Restructures U.S. Postal Service

A 16 percent reduction to the officer ranks, realigning revenue-generating business units and closing one Area office are among steps taken recently by Postmaster General Patrick R. Donahoe to create a leaner, faster, smarter U.S. Postal Service.

While cost savings will be realized, the main objective of the restructuring is to enhance and strengthen customer service and relationships. The realignment flattens the organization, enabling flexibility to more quickly adapt to changing market forces and continuing mail volume decline.

Donahoe has also announced:

  • The elimination of 7,500 administrative jobs, including line supervisors and postmasters. In addition to the cost savings, this action, and a 16% reduction in officer ranks, puts the Postal Service leadership in a better position with the unions.
  • The extension of automation discounts for mail with POSTNET barcodes. This change is an indication that the Donahoe team is listening to customers about the complexity of the Intelligent Mail program.
  • That his focus will be primarily on customers, not Capitol Hill. Donahoe said recently, “I plan to turn most of my attention to wooing new customers instead of worrying about congressional debate on the future of U.S. mail delivery. I need to get out and sell this business.” It appears the Deputy Postmaster General, yet to be appointed, will have responsibility for legislative matters. Having a PMG that is directly involved and meeting with customers can only help to prevent and eliminate burdensome regulations, policies and programs.

“The Postal Service is committed to making necessary changes to continue to provide quality service to our customers and to reinforce the value of the mail,” Donahoe said. “Ensuring customer satisfaction is the ultimate goal of all plans and strategies we develop.”



RESOURCE: ‘Copyright Basics’ Video

Global rights broker Copyright Clearance Center (CCC) has created a free seven-minute video that explains the basics of U.S. copyright law and how it applies to the workplace. The video is an easy and effective way for ABM members to ensure that their employees have a firm grasp on how the law regards intellectual property rights over shared published content. The video, entitled “Copyright Basics,” is available here.



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