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Publishers' taskforce plea

NO one really knows what makes the economic environment of Hongkong so hospitable, but everyone has a pet theory.

I believe a large part of the secret has to do with the free and easy flow of information and ideas that exist in Hongkong.

The liberal polices of the Hongkong Government have made Hongkong the media capital of Asia.

This is why I am disturbed by the recent announcement by the Postmaster General regarding a proposed postal increase for the territory (South China Morning Post, March 31).

Increasing the cost of delivering newspapers and periodicals through the mail inhibits this free flow of information. It also provides an unfortunate precedent for any future government of Hongkong seeking to restrict the reach of an independent media.

However, I sympathise with Mr Pagliari's wish to run the postal service more efficiently and eliminate the need to cross-subsidise services.

This is why we, along with the other publishers in Hongkong, have proposed forming a taskforce to examine ways in which heavy users of postal services can help the Post Office to reduce its costs and increase its revenues - without a price increase.

Time Inc. delivers magazines through the mail around the world and our knowledge of postal operations is extensive. Hongkong, as yet, offers no incentives for volume, or the pre-sorting of mail.

We believe we can help the Post Office decrease its costs, build its business and, hopefully, avoid the inflationary imposition of a 20 per cent rate increase. We ask the Post Office to postpone any price increase until such a taskforce is able to deliver a report.

Our invitation stands. We invite Mr Pagliari's response.

ROBIN JOHNSON President Time Inc., Asia