In suit, newspaper association argues U.S. Postal Service gave mass mailer an unfair advantage

Newspaper Association of America

In a brief filed Monday, the Newspaper Association of America says the U.S. Postal Regulatory Commission “has given one company a price incentive to move advertising inserts out of newspapers delivered to consumers’ homes.” That company is Valassis Communications, which the NAA said got a “sweetheart deal” last summer — one that “could lure more advertising away from newspapers,” The New York Times reported at the time.

The agreement “granted Valassis Direct Mail discounts of 20 percent to 34 percent on new mail pieces containing advertising from national retailers of durable and semi-durable goods,” the NAA says in a release announcing the brief. (You can read the whole brief here.) “The issue is not whether Valassis will win a particular advertiser or not from a newspaper – that is competition,” the brief reads. “The issue here is the government favoring one mailer over that mailer’s rivals in ways that would affect downstream markets.”

Newspapers typically get inserts to customers in weekend editions or in “total market coverage” products that go to non-subscribers. “Advertising inserts comprise a critical revenue stream that supports the original reporting done by local newspapers in service to their communities,” the NAA says.

The case is scheduled to be heard by the U.S. Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit.

Related: Newspapers, magazines will have ‘not-great’ choices as USPS plans to end Saturday delivery

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