Luxembourg: Subsidies for print and online media

Sinking readership numbers, vanishing advertising revenues and a lack of online business models are threatening the pluralistic media of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. The state offers assistance for print media - but only a few are benefitting.

Europe's largest private television and radio company, the RTL Group (© picture-alliance/dpa)
Europe's largest private television and radio company, the RTL Group (© picture-alliance/dpa)
Luxembourg's two publishing houses, Saint-Paul and Editpress, have been rivals for decades. The competition between the former, which is closely affiliated with the Christian Democrats, and the latter, which is pro-Democrat, grew even more intense after 2007, when both began publishing free newspapers that were hugely popular with their readers. The French-language free newspaper L'essentiel, published by Editpress, today reaches more than 200,000 readers in Luxembourg and the bordering regions. Its online news site gets the highest number of clicks in the country.

Since the introduction of free newspapers most fee-based dailies have seen a decline in their reader figures. This was true for the Tageblatt, published by Editpress, as well as the liberal Lëtzebuerger Journal and the communist newspaper vum Lëtzebuerger Vollek. La Voix du Luxembourg, the French-language pendant to Luxemburger Wort, had to close in 2011. Thanks to their e-paper services both Luxemburger Wort and the French-language website of Editpress, Le Quotidien, have seen a slight increase in their reader numbers.

In Luxembourg the state pays millions in subsidies for the print media, but it is mainly the three market leaders that benefit from this. Tageblatt, Luxemburger Wortand Le Quotidien received the lion’s share of the 7.4 million euros handed out in 2017 to ten print media outlets. In the same year seven online papers received funding for the first time: 100,000 euros apiece.

Among the magazines, both the cultural magazine Télécran and Revue have seen their readership figures drop. Others, such as the political weeklies Le Jeudi, D'Lëtzebuerger Land, Woxx and the monthly business magazine Paperjam have benefitted from the losses experienced by the daily newspapers.

The Portuguese-language (Contacto, Correio) and English-language (Delano) magazines are noteworthy elements of Luxembourg's media landscape. Foreigners account for more than 40 percent of Luxembourg's population and multilingualism is a strong feature of Luxembourg society. There are three official languages: German, French and Luxembourgish. Most newspapers, however, appear only in German or French; Luxembourgish is seldom used as a written language but is widely used for radio.

Luxembourg is home to Europe's largest private television and radio company, the RTL Group. In Luxembourg itself, RTL operates the main television channel RTL Télé Lëtzebuerg and enjoyed a monopoly position until 1991. The only French-language radio station, l'Essentiel, went on air in 2016 as an offshoot of the free newspaper of the same name.

Press Freedom Index (Reporters Without Borders):
Rank 17 (2018)

Last updated: May 2018
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