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)
Luxembour'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. In 2001, the combined readership of the free papers was larger than that of the nation’s oldest newspaper, the Luxemburger Wort, which belongs to Saint-Paul.

Although the free newspapers were unable to survive, the trend put a huge dent in the readership numbers of the majority of fee-based dailies. 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 only the three market leaders, Tageblatt, Luxemburger Wort and Le Quotidien, are benefitting. They will receive the lion’s share of the 7.4 million euros handed out in 2017. According to an additional clause in the legislation on press subsidies, online publications will also be eligible to receive state subsidies in the future. An initial 450,000 euros has been earmarked for them in the state budget.

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 are 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.

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 as well as other channels.

Press Freedom Rating:

Reporters Without Borders: 15th place (2017)
Freedom House: 7th place – status: free (2016)

Updated: May 2017
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