The European Commission has paid out nearly €172 million in compensation to Italy’s Poste Italiane for its distribution of newspapers and publications from book publishers and non-profit organisations at reduced rates.

As the country’s largest provider of postal services, Poste Italiane provides the distribution service after being tasked with preserving and fostering media plurality ain Italy.

The EU’s state aid rules allow companies to be compensated if they have been entrusted with public service obligations for the extra cost of providing these services.

The Commission found that the level of compensation did not exceed the amount needed to cover the net cost borne by Poste Italiane for providing the service.

In 2018, the Italian government carried out a public consultation with a view towards verifying the public’s interest in the protection of press distribution. The consultation confirmed that the process of offering reduced tariffs to publishers and not-for-profit organisations is seen as being important to most Italians.