The US Postal Service plans to simplify the postal rate structure that distinguishes between paid-for and free magazines. Currently, magazines must prove that at least 50% of a their circulation is paid-for in order to qualify for the lowest mailing rate.

In a filing with the Postal Rate Commission, the USPS proposes to reduce that qualifier to 30% and thereby align its criteria to those of media auditors such as the Audit Bureau of Circulations and BPA Worldwide.

Trade association Magazine Publishers of America slams the existing rules as complicated, complaining they create confusion and raise concerns in certain situations when titles don't meet the 50% level.

Are the USPS magazine-mailing rules obfuscatory?

According to Advertising Age, the current USPS rate structure specifies: "Titles that don't qualify as 'paid' can still be mailed for the same price by getting 50% of subscribers to request the publication. But using the 'requester' rate comes with certain additional conditions - 25% of each issue has to be editorial content and each title has to have at least 24 pages.

"Magazines mailed as "paid" periodicals don't have to be any specific number of pages, but the Postal Service requires that at least 25% of their content be editorial. Some publishers have expressed concern that without the change, magazines that don't qualify as paid could run into difficulty mailing advertorial sections or titles heavy in advertising."

We didn't understand it either!

Ever-eager to deliver cystal clear content to our readers, WAMN accordingly referred the USPS rate structure to a team of world-class code-breakers.

Sadly, following a series of encephalopathic seizures, the team has yet to emerge from intensive care.

Data sourced from AdAge (USA); additional content by WARC staff