Relief from weekly/daily filing of ‘Marked Copy for Advertising’ with U.S. Postal Service granted to newspaper mailers

From NNA

WASHINGTON—Circulation departments could reclaim a couple of valuable hours each week now by opting into a new process for verifying the advertising content of their mail with the U.S. Postal Service, the National Newspaper Association announced this week.

Current postal rules require Periodicals publications to supply USPS with a copy of each edition of each issue whenever they present the mailings. The copies must be marked by hand to indicate the paid advertising percentage, which is mailed at a higher postage rate than news content. The requirement was instituted by a 19th century Congress and carried forth into today’s highly digital world, where the hand-markings and submission have slowed processes for both publishers and postmasters.

Now, through an understanding with NNA, the Postal Service will permit publishers to enroll in an annual verification. Immediately upon acceptance, publishers may cease to present the “marked copy” of each edition. Instead, next September, post offices will randomly select one issue from the year and ask publishers to present only that single marked copy. If the marked copy matches the postage statement’s claimed advertising total presented with that issue’s mailing, the publisher is cleared for the rest of the year. If the copy fails to properly account for the correct amount of advertising within a 5 percent rate of understatement, further procedures will be conducted.

NNA President Matthew Paxton IV, publisher of The News-Gazette, Lexington, VA, said NNA was pleased to help its members streamline their mailing processes.

“Time is money, and in today’s electronic world, many of our members were doing everything online except for this one burdensome step. Postmaster General Megan Brennan and her team wisely recognized an opportunity for all parties to avoid this unnecessary compliance procedure so we could devote our time to building our businesses. We think this new process may take a little time to become rote for our circulation people. But in the end, it makes eminent sense to sign up now and start saving some time.”

NNA Postal Committee Chair Max Heath said his committee had worked toward this end for about two years.

“This step seemed pretty simple, but accomplishing it required a lot of changes at USPS, including some training adjustments and accommodating concerns of some non-newspaper users of Periodicals mail. We are fortunate to have willing partners in the Postal Service’s business systems department who were willing to work through the intricacies of changing this rule. Now our job is to educate our members on the value of making the change. I believe they will be glad to get rid of the burden of doing these marked copies every week, and am looking forward to feedback from NNA members on how well it is working for them.”

NNA members may contact Heath for help at maxheath@lcni.com or Tonda Rush at tonda@nna.org.

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