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Magazine publishers need to shift their attention from other worries to an old, familiar headache -- postal rates. After adjusting to a 4.6% hike early this year, part of the first general increase in four years, Magazine Publishers of America shocked its members with a warning that the U.S. Postal Service seems to be targeting periodicals for an extra measure of pain in its next rate proposal -- perhaps a 12% to 15% hike.

Fueling anger among publishers is MPA's belief that other mail classifications -- advertising mail and first-class letter mail -- might get much less onerous treatment. Postmaster General William J. Henderson, addressing MPA's annual meeting, dodged specifics. However, if USPS intends to deal fairly with the industry, it should invite publishers in for a thorough discussion of costs and the options as the postal service sees them. Then, officials should listen closely to a publisher's own take on costs.

Magazines are locked in a neccessary partnership with USPS; mailing costs impact the medium's economic well-being. Publishers need to know they've been given, if not a fair shake, then at least a fair and early hearing before postal rates are

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