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Netflix Not Going ‘Postal’ Over Continued Saturday Mail Delivery

28 Mar, 2013 By: Erik Gruenwedel

A Netflix spokesperson declined comment regarding Congress March 21 voting to force the U.S. Postal Service to maintain Saturday deliveries.

The action was part of an overall federal government spending bill, which traditionally includes a provision funding part of the Postal Service.

Netflix, which invented the by-mail disc rental business and has been the Postal Service’s largest individual customer, has been transitioning to a digital streaming business. CEO Reed Hastings has said the service would comply with any ruling.

“No comment really,” Netflix spokesperson Joris Evers wrote in an email.

The USPS last year asked Congress not to include financial support, saying it wanted to halt Saturday mail deliveries beginning Aug. 1 in an effort to cut $2 billion from its annual costs. The USPS lost $16 billion in 2012.

The spending bill, approved by the Senate March 20 and the House of Representatives the next day, must still be signed by President Obama. Current stop-gap funding of the government mandates six-day mail delivery by the Postal Service.

A spokesperson for Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg (D-N.J.) said Saturday mail delivery has been in appropriations bills for 30 years and shouldn’t be stopped.

“We expect the Postal Service to continue complying with the six-day mail delivery mandate,” Caley Gray told The Washington Post.

Proponents of five-day mail delivery say language of the longstanding provision is unclear as to what type of mail must be delivered on Saturday. The USPS has said it would only continue delivering more expensive parcels on Saturday after Aug. 1. That may not include Netflix discs, which cost the same as first-class letters.

In the book, Netflixed: The Epic Battle for America’s Eyeballs, Netflix co-founder Marc Randolph described how he and Reed Hastings labored finding a mailer capable of safely delivering a disc at the same cost as a first-class letter — not a more expensive parcel.

Proponents of five-day mail delivery think they can enable the USPS to abide by the law while still cutting costs.

“The Postal Service is not eliminating a day of service, but is merely altering what products are delivered on what day,” Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) said in a joint statement with Rep. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.).

About the Author: Erik Gruenwedel

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