IT and foreign Trade minister Kert Kingo (EKRE) has expressed opposition to a proposal from Estonian private media representatives to establish a joint news paper delivery service. At the same time, Kingo defended the proposed increase in newspaper delivery prices by state postal service Eesti Post/Omniva of over 10 percent.
The rise in prices has been criticized as potentially killing-off newspaper and periodical delivery in rural areas.
The Estonian Newspaper Association (Eesti Meediaettevõtete Liidu) has proposed establishing a joint delivery service between Eesti Post and Ekspress Post, as a way of keeping deliveries going. Ekspress Post is owned by private media companies in Estonia. The association also said the Eesti Post proposed delivery price increases should be postponed.
Kingo said that the proposal failed to take into account that Eesti Post is also a general postal service provider, and not just a carrier of papers.
"In addition to newspaper and periodical deliveries, a five-day-per-week general postal service is required. Ekspress Post does not have such an obligation [to carry out general deliveries], so Eesti Post still needs to send out both deliveries," Kingo said, according to ERR's online news in Estonian.
Kingo also noted that in 2011, the Competition Authority (Konkurentsiamet) forbade such a joint venture on the grounds that it would put Ekpsress Post under Eesti Post's dominant influence and thus be anti-competitive.
"At present, two companies deliver home delivery services in towns and thus ensure the functioning of competition. Creating one company on the basis of two operating companies would eliminate competition and create a dominant company," Kingo said.
"With the 11.1 percent price increase, Eesti Post is expected to receive additional revenue of €334,000 from media companies next year, according to estimates," Kingo said.
"Wage increases will cost the company about €650,000, an indispensable cost that the company cannot postpone, as it is already difficult to find solutions in many areas," she added, noting that the state already effectively pays almost half of the cost of delivering newspapers and periodicals.
"Periodical delivery totaled €7.8 million in 2018. Media companies paid €4.1 million to Eesti Post through service invoices, and the state added €1.3 million in grants, with AS Eesti Post through service losses contributing €2.4 million. At present, the state is paying almost half the cost of delivering papers and periodicals," Kingo said.
Aivar Kokk (Isamaa), chair of the Riigikogu's finance committee, said the issues are under discussion with representatives of the relevant institutions and organizations, following a committee roundtable.
Editor: Andrew Whyte