The threat that a price-hike in postage rates paid by the regional press - to make up for an £8m revenue shortfall - could filter down to advertisers is expected to lead to a highprofile showdown between newspapers and Royal Mail.
The Newspaper Society said its battle to stop Royal Mail from withdrawing an agreement that gives cheap postal rates to local newspapers was making progress this week after a strongly-worded letter to Royal Mail chief executive Adam Crozier had roused the interest of MPs.
Despite a firm commitment to hold talks three weeks ago with the industry on the matter, the Royal Mail has restated its intention to cut spiralling costs across the group.
Ed Davey, Liberal Democrat MP and shadow spokesman on local government and regional issues, said: "Rural communities are under attack on so many fronts and it beggars belief that the Royal Mail is thinking of going down this road."
The Royal Mail has also said it would tear up any existing contracts it has with regional newspapers, which would throw distribution budgets for the next year into disarray and threaten the delivery of newspapers to readers and voucher copies to advertisers.