Postal Act amended to secure mail delivery in changing operating environment
On 16 February 2023, the President of the Republic approved amendments to the Postal Act. At the same time, provisions on government grants for newspaper delivery included in the Postal Act were confirmed. The support will be regulated in more detail in a government decree. The aim is to ensure equal access to postal services as well as to secure the conditions for the five-day delivery of newspapers across Finland.
The amendments to the Postal Act will change the current five-day collection and delivery of mail within the universal postal service to three-day collection and delivery. In future, a universal service provider must collect and deliver postal items falling within the scope of the universal service on at least three business days a week, excluding public holidays. The amendments to the Postal Act concerning universal service will enter into force on 1 October 2023.
The universal service obligation under the Postal Act applies to letters belonging to the universal service and to postal parcels sent abroad from Finland. The universal service obligation applies only to letters and postal parcels paid in cash. Newspapers and periodicals do not fall within the scope of the universal service obligation referred to in the Postal Act.
The purpose of the amendments to the Postal Act is to ensure cost-effective mail delivery in a changing operating environment where the volumes of traditional postal items are constantly decreasing. The legislative amendment makes the universal service obligation lighter and more flexible, so that postal services can be implemented efficiently in the future, taking into account the needs of consumers.
The amendments to the Postal Act come with the introduction of a temporary government grant for newspaper delivery. The purpose of the grant is to create the conditions for the delivery of newspapers five working days a week in areas where there is no commercial early-morning delivery network for newspapers and no full five-day early-morning delivery is available.
The grant can be used to promote access to socially important information, to support diverse news activities and to promote high-quality and diverse communications. The Finnish Transport and Communications Agency Traficom will act as the state aid authority in accordance with the Act on Discretionary Government Transfers.
Parliament calls for media support
When adopting the amendments to the Postal Act, Parliament imposed a condition concerning media support that seeks to secure the status of local newspapers as significant communications media. At the request of Parliament, the Ministry of Transport and Communications started to prepare a government decree on government grants to support communications and news media in 2023.
The draft government decree on media support will be out for comments until 3 March 2023.
Most of the amendments to the Postal Act will enter into force on 1 October 2023. The provisions concerning government grants for newspaper delivery will enter into force on 1 March 2023 and will remain in force until the end of 2029.
Fanni Thessler, Senior Officer, fanni.thessler(at)gov.fi, tel. +358 50 353 5515 (Postal Act)
Sara Vänttinen, Senior Specialist, sara.vanttinen(at)gov.fi, tel. +358 50 473 0277 (government grants for newspaper delivery)