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Post's killing threat


From 1 January 2006, the existence of several of the country's opinion-bearing newspapers is threatened. Including New Time.

The reason is Norway Post's decision last week on a dramatic increase in the postage requirement for sending the weekly newspapers from the New Year. Morgenbladet, Dag og Tid and Ny Tid are among those hardest hit. For this newspaper, the decision will mean an increase in distribution costs of 200-300 percent, over one million kroner, according to calculations made by the National Association of Local Newspapers (LLA). This is an estimate based on the latest interpretations that Norway Post has presented this week.

If this is not reversed or corrected in any other way, it will have serious consequences for Ny Tid. The paradox lies in the fact that Ny Tid this autumn has received money from the private foundation Fritt Ord to strengthen foreign coverage, while it is the state Post that takes the money back – and more.

"Norway Post's unilateral determination of postage for newspapers is the use of a combination of market power and monopoly position," Olav Bergo of the National Association of Media Companies (MBL) has stated.

Posten as a state company, with its decision, does not take social considerations into account, only market economics. This in itself is problematic, since Norway Post naturally has a monopoly on postal services in the country. Thus, there are no other more solidly-disposed carriers for the district newspapers to address. The new prices are primarily an attack on the spread of the four words to the districts.

Posten's new prices promote advertising broadcasts rather than editorial content. The meaning-bearing is prioritized for the benefit of the so-called meaningless.

When Norway Post is no longer conscious of its social response, it is all the more important that politicians are. True, the political control over Posten has been weakened following the new concession in 2001. But the Center Party's Transport Minister Liv Signe Navarsete still has the opportunity to act against Posten. It is also to be hoped that the Storting is aware of its responsibilities and sees what the serious consequences Norway Post's doorstep will have for the media diversity in the country.

It will not be a sustainable solution with only possible financial compensation, such as through the press support, for the dramatic postage increase. First, there are several endangered district newspapers that will not be subject to increased press support. Second, the danger is great that any compensation will be only partial or temporary, possibly both.

The important thing now is to recognize Norway Post's centuries-old tradition as a state postman – and act accordingly.

A letter sent by one of our readers to the Norwegian Post and Telecommunications Authority summarizes the situation quite well. She is a subscriber to both Dag og Tid, Morgenbladet and Ny Tid – and now warns against the situation: “After the third quarter, Norway Post has a surplus of over one billion. There is no shortage of money, but there is a lack of social responsibility. ”

It is to be hoped that governing social forces will notice these words. And we encourage all readers of Ny Tid and other endangered publications to support these newspapers as best they can.


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