Portugal: media advertising and jobs in decline

Hard hit by the economic and financial crisis, Portugal's media landscape has been struggling with declining advertising revenues and staff reductions for years. Several newspapers, including the prestigious business paper Diário Económico, which was market and opinion leader in the business and finance segment, have had to close or been restructured for financial reasons.

The anniversary of the Carnation Revolution (© picture-alliance/dpa)
The anniversary of the Carnation Revolution (© picture-alliance/dpa)
Portugal's media experienced a long period of censorship which only ended with the Carnation Revolution of 1974. Some newspapers were then taken over and run by the state, and it wasn't until the late 1980s that they returned to private ownership. The liberalisation of Portugal's radio and television services also began in the late 1980s - before that they were the exclusive preserve of the state and the Catholic Church.

Major media holdings with predominantly Portuguese capital and a multimedia orientation own most of the country's newspapers and other media. The media companies' dependence on non-media and foreign investors - which in some cases increased dramatically during the crisis years - has subsided since the end of 2015.

Portugal does not have a large number of newspapers. Expresso, a liberal weekly published on Saturdays and founded in 1973 when Portugal was still under dictatorship, is considered the country's leading media organ. It maintains good contacts with the country's two most important political parties and served as a mouthpiece for the moderate opposition during the dictatorship. Its main rival among the dailies is Público, which was founded in 1990 by former Expresso journalists.

Alongside Público the five national dailies comprise Diário de Notícias, with a long tradition, the high circulation Jornal de Notícias from Porto, the newspaper i, founded in 2009, and the tabloid Correio da Manhã, which has the biggest print run. The most important news magazines are market leader Visão and its rival Sábado; the main business newspapers are Diário Económico and Jornal de Negócios.

The political orientation of the national newspapers is not clearly discernible. Blogs play a role only on the websites of the news websites. Newspaper circulation in general has dropped sharply over the last decade. Diário Económico is just one example of many that testify to the dramatic impact the crisis has had on Portugal's media landscape. Many journalists – including the majority of employees at the weekly paper Sol and the daily paper Journal i– lost their jobs after the Angolan holding company Newshold sold off both papers at the end of 2015 and their new Portuguese owner subjected them to major restructuring.

But there is also good news from Portugal's crisis-torn newspaper industry: new journalistic projects like the online business paper ECO (founded in 2016) and the weekly Jornal Económico have been launched in the aftermath of the crisis.

The private TV channels SIC and TVI entered the television market in 1992/1993 and compete with the three channels currently run by state broadcaster RTP. Despite the rise of digital television, viewers in Portugal only have these five free-to-air channels to choose from. In the radio segment, the Catholic church operates the influential radio station Rádio Renascença. The private radio station TSF, which is seen as Portugal's leading radio station for news, was founded in 1989.

Press Freedom Rating:
Reporters Without Borders: 18th place (2017)
Freedom House: 21st place (2016)

Updated: May 2017
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