Luxemburg: Subsidies for print and online media

Declining circulations, dwindling advertising revenues and ineffective online business models pose a threat to Luxembourg’s pluralistic media landscape. Its comparatively high level of diversity has only been maintained thanks to state assistance for publishing companies.

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.

Tough competition from free newspapers

Since the introduction of free newspapers most fee-based dailies have seen a decline in their reader figures, including the Lëtzebuerger Journal, published by Editpress, the liberal Lëtzebuerger Journal and the communist newspaper vum Lëtzebuerger Vollek. La Voix du Luxembourg, the French-language pendant to the prestigious Luxemburger Wort, was forced to shut down in 2011. In 2019 the French weekly Le Jeudi was also discontinued.

Yet Luxembourg still has a relatively large number of newspapers, and this is largely thanks to a state aid system that developed over time. In 2019 about seven million euros of this special funding known as “press aid” was granted to ten magazines and newspapers. The lion's share went to the three market leaders Tageblatt, Luxemburger Wort and Le Quotidien. Since 2017 online media have also received funding to the tune of around 100,000 euros each.

Multilingualism at newsstands

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.

Luxembourg is generally considered to have a high level of press freedom. Nevertheless, the country’s press council has complained of repeated attempts to undermine this freedom, pointing out that journalists are increasingly being threatened with legal proceedings as a means of stopping them from doing their job.

World Press Freedom Index (Reporters Without Borders):
Rank 17 (2020)

Last updated: April 2020
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