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Bpost secures newspaper distribution agreement, legal action averted

09:00 13/05/2024

Bpost has settled a dispute with private distributor PPP over the distribution of newspapers and magazines in Belgium, after PPP took legal action against the postal service accusing it of illegally accepting state subsidies.

In order to avoid lengthy and costly legal proceedings, Bpost said it would "pay PPP an agreed amount in respect of the costs of the proceedings".

The two parties now wish to “devote their energies to developing their activities and, in particular, to negotiations with publishers concerning the conditions for distributing newspapers and magazines from 1 July 2024,” Bpost said.

Bpost had been responsible for newspaper and magazine distribution at a cost of €125 million until the government decided to put an end to the concession mechanism last winter. A four-year contract was instead awarded to PPP.

As part of the handover, the government authorised Bpost to continue distributing newspapers for the first six months of 2024, guaranteeing it a subsidy of €75 million.

In PPP's view, this was “illegal aid” because it had not been validated by the European Commission. For this reason, the newspaper distributor asked the Brussels commercial court to order Bpost to “cease all distribution of press titles based on this illegal State aid”.

Bpost has now announced it has reached an agreement with the publishers of all Flemish daily newspapers to continue distributing them beyond 1 July.

"The discussions are continuing with the publishers of French-language newspapers," Bpost added.

Written by Helen Lyons