Postal Newspaper Delivery and Diversity of Opinions
In West Germany, prices of postal newspaper delivery (also encompassing periodicals) have traditionally been lower than for comparable large-volume mailings. Postal pricing with regard to the press has been justified by two arguments, the first being related to the demand side and the second to the supply side of press markets. First, consumption of journals would create external benefits to society, notably the informed public vital to a democracy. External benefits would justify lowering prices below marginal costs to induce further consumption. Second, the supply of distribution services would be marked by economies of scale. Large publishers would have an incentive to vertically integrate into distribution and drive smaller competitors out of the market by denying them access to distribution services, thereby reducing diversity of opinion. The danger of restrained access to distribution would justify a subsidized postal service operating as a common carrier.
KeywordsRetail Outlet Home Delivery Postal Service Daily Newspaper Natural Monopoly
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- 1.A Wissenschaftliches Institut für Kommunikationsdienste (WIK) research project on postal newspaper delivery will complete a full theoretical and empirical analysis until mid 1991.Google Scholar
- 2.Hypothetically, a monopolist publisher vertically integrated into distribution may have an economic incentive to transmit diversity of opinions in his journals, but I do not consider the alternative as compatible with democratic principles.Google Scholar
- 3.If postal circulation of a publication is more than 200,000 copies and if the average number of copies delivered per post code area is more than 75, the Bundespost offers a (negligible) discount, which might be interpreted as a discount for nationwide delivery.Google Scholar
- 4.Alternatively, geographical uniformity of prices could be defined as a statutory obligation. In this case, postal delivery in rural areas would have to be internally subsidized out of profits made in sectors where the Bundespost has a legal monopoly. The 1989 Deutsche Bundespost Constitution Act offers such a possibility.Google Scholar
- 5.There may be intermediate stages of sorting and conveyance.Google Scholar
- 6.The delivering personnel might also cash in the subscription fees.Google Scholar
- 7.In five territories, the spectrum of journals is split between two wholesalers.Google Scholar