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Media Landscapes


Written by Fernando Correia, Carla Martins


Mainland Portugal is located on South-western tip of the Iberian Peninsula and covers an area of 92 thousand square kilometres. It borders Spain to the North and East and the Atlantic Ocean to the West and South. The territory of Portugal also includes the Azores and Madeira islands. Portugal has a population of approximately 10.7 million inhabitants. Lisbon is the nation’s capital and a metropolitan area of 1.8 million inhabitants. Regarding some economic figures: Active population – 5.6 million people; Gross Domestic Product – 164.5 billion euro; Gross Domestic Product per capita – around 15 thousand euro.

By the beginning of the 20th century (I Republic, 1910-1926) the economic and financial situation was very serious due the country’s political instability – a circumstance that would ultimately lead to a military coup followed by a dictatorship and the so-called “New State” (1926-1974), an authoritarian regime based on a estate-centred corporatist economy, which severely hindered individual liberties, in particular freedom of the press. Following a military coup in April 1974 and the Carnation Revolution, civil liberties were restored.

After the widespread turbulence and radicalism of the revolutionary period of 1974-76 cleared away, Portugal eventually settled into a liberal democratic political system. Socialist (centre-left) and Social-Democratic (centre-right) parties are dominant in the political party spectrum and have been alternating in power for the last 30 years. The former prime-minister Aníbal Cavaco Silva has been the President of the Portuguese Republic since 2006. In the aftermath of the parliamentary elections of September 2009, José Sócrates, the leader of the Socialist Party, was re-elected as Prime-Minister. The Portuguese Parliament currently houses representatives from the Socialist Party (97 seats), the Social-Democratic Party (81), the Democratic-Christian Party (21), the Leftist Block (16) and the Communist Party and Ecologist Party “Os Verdes” coalition (15).

Descending from Latin, Portuguese is the third most widely spoken European language in the world and is the mother tongue for about 200 million people. Countries in which Portuguese is the official language are: Angola, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, San Tome and Principe (Africa), Brazil (South America) and East-Timor in Asia.

Main features

  • The written press has endured a deep crisis throughout the last years, with loss of readers and advertising. Notwithstanding new editorial projects still come about occasionally
  • The evolution in the market for free newspapers is somewhat ambiguous, as some of the editorial projects failed to survive and the average circulation tends to decrease
  • A new media conglomerate, Ongoing, has suddenly emerged within the media owners “club”, holding important assets in television and economic press
  • Catholic Church maintains, directly or indirectly, a strong presence in local and regional press

Almost all of the great expansion media are integrated in large economic groups (large at a Portuguese level, but with small significance at a European level), a trend which started to consolidate since the middle 1980s, resulting from the introduction of liberal policies strongly influenced by the European Union and the switches in property of the main newspapers from the hands of traditional families to large groups. This was due to two main reasons:

  1. Internal media reasons, like the rise in production costs, the considerable investments needed, the open possibilities of offer enlargement and the advantages of large scale operations and group synergies;
  2. General reasons, like the integration of Portugal into the European Common Market, the re-privatisation of companies which had been nationalised after the April Revolution of 1974, and the Governmental policies favouring concentration of the share capital.

 Some features of the concentration phenomena:

  1. It results from the attempt by some large-scale economic groups to expand their business to the media sector and from the growth of companies already established in the business;
  2. Concerning the top holdings, it plays a part in a multimedia strategy, including, after the year 2000, an emergent participation in Internet and new media;
  3. It is mostly aimed at goals of economic nature, while also taking into consideration certain political and social motivations;
  4. It is  backed by a significant participation of foreign-held capital.

 Besides the State and the Catholic Church, six other major groups dominate almost everything related to press and audiovisual in Portugal. They are:

  • COFINA. Great influence on the press sector, owns the dailies Correio da Manhã, Jornal de Negócios and Record, the free newspapers Destak and Meia-Hora and the magazines Sábado (news magazine), TV Guia and several other specialised magazines.
  • CONTROLINVESTE. The only of the four main groups with presence in all media sectors: Jornal de Notícias, Diário de Notícias, 24 Horas, O Jogo, National Geographic and several other specialised magazines and newspapers; TSF (informational radio) and Sport TV (cable).
  • IMPRESA. Property of the former prime-minister Francisco Balsemão. In the press, it holds: Expresso, Visão, Jornal de Letras, Exame, Telenovelas, Caras and half a dozen of specialised magazines. In television, it holds the commercial channel SIC and also SIC Notícias, SIC Radical, SIC Mulher and SIC Internacional channels.
  • MEDIA CAPITAL. Very strong in the audiovisual sector, owns the leading commercial channel TVI and radio stations Rádio Comercial, Rádio Clube Português, Cidade FM, among others. In the last decade Media Capital strongly invested in the audiovisual production and more recently in music promotion and distribution.
  • SONAECOM. This branch of the holding Sonae, run by Belmiro de Azevedo, one of Portugal’s most notorious entrepreneurs, owns the daily newspaper Público and holds assets in telecommunications and Internet.
  • ZON MULTIMÉDIA. A major player in the subscription television, cinema and audiovisual content production and distribution, as well as in Internet and telecommunications services. Zon Multimédia owns TV Cabo / Zon after the sale of this company by Portugal Telecom. Portugal Telecom, on the other hand, has created a television subscription service competitor called Meo. 

Media Capital is the only major holding owned by a non-Portuguese shareholder, Spanish Prisa, but all the others include foreign-held capital to variable extents. In 2009 some important changes occurred within this group due to Prisa's economical difficulties and Ongoing’s offer to purchase roughly 30 percent of the shares of Media Capital. Ongoing already owns 23 percent of Impresa, which runs SIC. Regarding the cumulative assets in television and business press in the last two years, one can look at Ongoing as a rising media conglomerate in Portugal.

Besides these groups, there are two other important media owners, the State and the Catholic Church.

The Portuguese State holds: 

  1. Lusa news agency;
  2. Two generalist television channels, RTP1 and RTP2, RTP Açores, RTP Madeira, RTP Internacional and RTP África and, in cable, RTPN (news) and RTP Memória (historical archive);
  3. Seven radio stations, Antena 1 (generalist), Antena 2 (classical music), Antena 3 (younger public), RDP Madeira, RDP Açores, RDP Africa and RDP Internacional.

The Roman Catholic Church runs the leading radio network in terms of audiences, Renascença Group, with three main channels, namely Rádio Renascença, RFM and Mega FM. It also owns, directly or indirectly, dozens of radio stations and local and regional newspapers, including, in the North of the country, Diário do Minho.


Forecasts assessing the advertising market indicate a decrease in 2009 for all media, except for the Internet. Television still captures the main slice of ad revenues (according to Marktest, 71 percent in 2008, which amounts to 3.3 billion euro), followed by the press (18 percent, which sums up to 835 million euro). Around 40 percent of the advertising investment in the press is allocated to general information publications, 20 percent to local and regional press and 13 percent to feminine, society and television magazines. Radio, outdoor advertising and cinema sum 11 percent of the ad expenditure.

Notwithstanding, other ad market assessments sharply contrast with Marktest’s, first of all because the latter basis its calculations on “board prices“, i.e., the established prices before negotiation. In fact, the comparison between Marktest’s analysis of the ad market with other assessments focused on the “real prices” of commercials shows that media companies, especially television networks, frequently offer generous discounts while negotiating ad prices, which sometimes reaches as high as 80 percent. For instance, according to an alternative source analysis, Omnicom, the Portuguese ad market value is worth 797 million euro - which is far behind Marktest’s estimations -, 52 percent of which allocated to television.

In a country historically associated with weak newspaper reading habits and persistent illiteracy, the crisis affecting the written press has been especially harsh also due to the downsizing of paid circulation, the increasing preference for online media, especially among the youngest people, the fierce competition of free newspapers, and the decrease of ad revenues due to the economic recession. The uncertainty regarding the future of print papers is pushing editorial enterprises to broaden their scope and diversify their editorial strategies, to some extent in creative ways, reinforcing traditional brands within a multimedia environment or creating new editorial projects.

If Portuguese national newspapers, both daily and non-daily, are relatively young - with few exceptions, like Diário de Notícias or Jornal de Notícias, which were founded respectively in 1864 and 1926 –, the last years have seen the shut-down of A Capital – a former afternoon daily newspaper –, of O Independente - an irreverent weekly newspaper, whose editorial formula combined tabloid with investigative reporting features, of the weekly Tal & Qual – also with popular characteristics – and of Semanário, a centre-right oriented weekly.

On the other hand, two new national newspapers were created in the last years: the weekly Sol in 2007 and the daily i in 2009. The latter, owned by Sojormedia, the media holding of the industrial conglomerate Lena Group, was launched against all odds in the peak of the economical crisis. This was surprisingly enough for the New York Times to pay attention to it and write an article on the feat. According to journalist Eric Pfanner, from the NYT: “It would be hard to find a less promising country in which to start a newspaper than Portugal. Not only are readers defecting to the Internet, as they are elsewhere, but relatively few people ever picked up a paper to begin with. And print advertising has plunged by more than 40 percent this year.” The investors and editor of i are optimistic about the future and in fact the newspaper has increased its average circulation: in its fourth month (August 2009) the daily reached 16,340 copies.

Regarding the written press evolution in the last years, one can also highlight the acquisition of the holding Económica - relevant publisher in the business news segment, holding the papers Diário Económico, Semanário Económico and OJE - by Ongoing, an emergent media group in Portugal. One can also stress the launching of the Portuguese edition of Playboy in 2009. In the last years three new free papers, owned my Portuguese major media groups, were also launched - Meia-Hora, Global Notícias, and Sexta. The latter - a joint venture between the newspapers Público and A Bola, published on Fridays - was halted in the beginning of 2009.

Several publications suffered decreases in circulation both in daily and non-daily segments. According to Associação Portuguesa para o Controlo de Tiragem e Circulação (APCT) - whose mission is to audit the circulation of Portuguese press -, Correio da Manhã kept the leadership among the dailies and Expresso among the non-dailies. Visão is the main news magazine. Regarding the specialised editorial segments, one can notice ambivalent trends: the increasing circulation within the economic, business and management publications (which is understandable in an economic crisis context) and decreases within sports newspapers, free periodicals and women and fashion, male and social magazines.

The pole position, in terms of general paid papers with daily issues, is held (all the editions indicated refer to the average circulation in 2008) by Correio da Manhã (122,207 copies) and Jornal de Notícias (103,165 copies), both bearing rather “popular” features. Next on the list are Público (43,642) and Diário de Notícias (41,333), both qualified as “quality” papers. Another “popular” daily,  24 Horas, actually the closest to a tabloid editorial format within the Portuguese national daily press, has an average circulation of 38,476 copies.

There are three daily sport papers (predominantly dedicated to football): Record (73,939), O Jogo (32,794) and A Bola, which is not audited by APCT but boasts a circulation similar to Record.

The weekly generalist paper segments is topped by Expresso (121,107), followed by Sol (47,813). Also in the news magazines area there are two major publications, Visão (102,350) and Sábado (76,829), followed by Focus (13,126).

The business press includes ten newspapers and magazines, including the dailies Diário Económico (14,724), Jornal de Negócios (9,343) and the free paper OJE (26,964).

In spite of decreases in average circulation, the women, society and TV magazines are still publications of great circulation, like in past years. The leader is weekly magazine Maria, created in 1978, with a paid average circulation of 222,492, followed by TV 7 Dias (150,484), Nova Gente (134,611), Telenovelas (95,226) and Caras (89,845).

Readers of all the newspapers and magazines above mentioned are mostly from Lisbon and the South part of the country, except for Jornal de Notícias and O Jogo, whose readers are concentrated in Oporto and in the North.

Free press appeared in Portugal in 1996, with Jornal da Região, which would somewhat loose its importance with the conversion of Destak into a daily newspaper and the launching of the Portuguese edition of Metro and other free papers. In 2008 the four daily free papers Destak, Global Notícias, Meia-Hora and Metro reached an average circulation of 590,000 copies per edition.        

There are around 650 local and regional newspapers in Portugal, mainly with a weekly periodicity. The disproportion between the large number of publications and the size of the country strongly impacts on the modest size and low quality of the majority of local and regional press. The number of daily newspapers within this segment is not very significant (around 20), neither their circulation (usually circulation doesn’t exceed 10,000 copies). Nevertheless, we can mention some historically relevant local and regional publications such as Açoriano Oriental, Jornal do Fundão or Reconquista. The Catholic Church is, directly or indirectly, the main owner of regional and local press. Advertising revenues come predominantly from local institutions and enterprises and from public institutions.

  Main features 

  • RFM and Rádio Renascença are the more listened radio stations in Portugal, followed by Rádio Comercial and Antena 1 (2008)
  • The radio broadcasters haves been losing advertising revenues to other media in the past years but a recent study concludes that the value of local radio ad market is being underestimated
  • Radio is rapidly adapting to digital technologies and diversifying the means of distribution           

In terms of advertising revenues, according to Marktest, radio holds a share of only 3.8 percent of the market, after television, written press and outdoor publicity, which indicates a persistent decrease of ad expenditure allocated to this medium. On the other hand, academic and market studies traditionally overlook the radio sector, particularly local radio broadcasters. A recent study conducted by the media regulating authority shows, for instance, that local radio advertising market has been underestimated in the last decades (cfr. O Sector da Radiodifusão Local em Portugal, 2009). A media reception study conducted by ISCTE concluded, on the other hand, that “radio is considered less important than the newspapers as a source of information and, notwithstanding, it is considered a more credible medium” (Estudo de Recepção dos Meios de Comunicação Social em Portugal, 2008). So further investigation is required to confirm the real scope of radio audiences and the real value of advertising expenditure in this medium.

The ownership of national and regional stations is concentrated in the hands of the State and a handful of Portuguese media groups. Public service radio broadcasting company, RDP, includes seven stations (view description on previous point). There are 347 local radios in Portugal, mostly in the districts of Lisbon, Oporto and Aveiro. The majority, 326, are classified as generalist stations and only 21 as thematic stations (16 musical and 5 informational).

Renascença Group continues to lead the radio segment in Portugal (view description on previous point). In the last few years, Media Capital, through its affiliate Media Capital Rádios, reinforced its presence in this sector. The company’s portfolio includes Rádio Comercial, Rádio Clube Português, Rádio Cidade, Best Rock FM and the website Cotonete. On the other hand, TSF, created in 1988, is the main thematic Portuguese radio station specialised in news. In 2005, the company which owned TSF was bought by Controlinveste.

According to Marktest, Portuguese radio listeners dispense a daily average of 3 hours and 11 minutes listening to radio. RFM and Rádio Renascença are the most listened radio stations in Portugal, followed by Rádio Comercial and Antena 1. Greater Lisbon, Inland and Seaside North regions register the highest shares of radio audience. The South is, by contrast, the Portuguese region with the least significant radio consumption. Generally speaking, men listen to radio more often than women (a proportion of 55 to 45 percent). Radio is mainly consumed by individuals between 25 and 44 years of age.         

In recent years, the Portuguese radio sector has been influenced by the worldwide trend of diversification of distribution platforms and equipments, which alters the listening experience. Such platforms and equipments include the Internet, the cable network, cell phones and podcast. The majority of Portuguese radio stations can be also listened through the Internet.

Main features 

  • Television continues to stand as the dominant medium regarding audiences and advertising revenues
  • Each Portuguese watches an average of 3 hours and 35 minutes of television per day
  • Television commercial channels SIC and TVI, the latter with more popular characteristics, continue to dispute audience share leadership
  • Portuguese “telenovelas“, football and information are the television genres which gather the public preferences
  • TV Cabo and the most direct competitor Meo hold the main market share of subscription television.      

Three national generalist television operators coexist in strong competition in the hertz space: RTP (channels RTP1 and RTP2), holder of the public service and submitted to a set of obligations defined by the State; SIC and TVI, both commercial stations created at the beginning of the 1990s and bestowed with a renewed licence to broadcast until 2021.     

In spite of the Government's prospects for launching a fifth hertz channel, in March 2009 the media regulation authority disqualified both applications to the granting of an operating licence put forward by competitors Zon and Telecinco. Such decision has been challenged by the proponents before the courts and a final decision is yet to be dictated.        

According to different sources, television continues to concentrate the major slice of advertising revenues (from 50 to 70 percent, according to different sources). RTP1 has a mixed funding model based on advertising and public subventions settled annually by the State Budget. Additionally the “contribution for the audiovisual”, a tax collected every month with the electricity bill, is the main source of funding for public radio and RTP2 (in both cases, commercial advertising is banned).              

Between 2000 and 2008, the average daily time of television consumption remained very stable. According to Marktest, in 2008 each Portuguese watched, in average, 3 hours and 35 minutes of television per day. The above mentioned media reception study conducted by ISCTE concluded as follows: “The first major impression  that comes out from a panoramic perspective of the Portuguese media field is that of the dominance of television. This is really nothing surprisingly nor genuinely Portuguese. But we should always highlight it. Everyone watches television regardless of their education background, age or gender”.      

In 2008 the two hertz channels of public service television held a combined share of 29.46 percent (RTP1, 23.8 percent; and RTP2 5.6 percent). Commercial broadcasters hold the largest slice of television audiences: SIC, 24.9 percent; TVI, 30.5 percent.

Generally the major audiences live in the Inland regions, come from the lower social classes (C2 and D), are mostly made up by women (actually there is a tendency towards flattening this gender difference), and are older than 64 years of age (in spite of the increasing consumption among the youngest). But there are slight differences among the audiences of  the diverse channels. Television audiences profile shows that “RTP1 audiences are less educated, older and predominantly masculine. SIC audiences are more educated, younger and balanced in a gender perspective. TVI audiences are more feminine, inter-generational (that is, no significant differences among the several age scales) and, above all, are the ones including less individuals with a higher education” (quoted from the media reception study mentioned above).         

In recent years programming choices for the two commercial operators increased, namely in Portuguese fiction, “telenovelas”, talk shows, quizzes, movies and series. Sports, in particular football matches, and information are the other two television genres which gather public preferences and where the competition between channels stands out most visibly. Public service second channel, with a audience share of around 6 percent, is focused on more demanding and segmented groups and, in terms of programming, emphasises culture, education, social activities, sports, religious confessions, independent production, Portuguese cinema, audiovisual environment and experimentalism. It hosts as well programmes produced by the so called “civic society”.


Cable television services were launched in Portugal in 1994. Combined with the licensing of commercial channels, this new distribution platform had a major impact in the Portuguese audiovisual landscape. TV Cabo (now integrated in the holding Zon Multimédia) and Meo (Portugal Telecom) are the two major players in subscription cable television.      

According to ANACOM, the Portuguese communications authority, in 2008 cable television services were subscribed by around 1.5 million customers, which represent a penetration rate of 26.4 percent of Portuguese households. Lisbon region concentrates 47.7 percent of the total number of subscribers, followed by North (25.7 percent), Centre (11.9 percent), Algarve (3.7 percent) and Alentejo (3.1 percent). Madeira gathered 4.8 percent of subscribers and Azores 3.1 percent.

In 2008 the satellite television service (DTH-Direct to Home) was subscribed by 586,000 customers, a penetration rate of 10.5 percent of Portuguese households. The number of subscribers of other television platforms sum up 224,000 at the end of 2008, which represents a penetration rate of 4.1 percent.

In short, the penetration rate of subscription television services reached 40.9 percent at the end of 2008, with a total number of subscribers of 2.29 million, concentrated in Lisbon and North regions. The growth was leveraged by the appearance of a new cable service provider, Meo, which started a massive distribution in 2008, and the subscription of alternative subscription television platforms.          

Cable service subscription and subscription of codified channels (cinema, erotic, children, etc.), allowing a more diverse and segmented television offer, will most likely continue to increase. However, it is interesting to observe that traditional channels (RTP, SIC and TVI) are still the most popular among cable service programmes offer. 24 hours a day information channels such as SIC Notícias, RTPN and, more recently, TVI 24, were also a winning bet. The company Económica, which runs the newspapers Diário Económico and Semanário Económico, is also preparing the launching of a new 24-hour economic news channel.

Cinema audiences are concentrated mostly in the regions of Lisboa, Porto, Setúbal e Faro, also the most populated in the country. These regions, including Faro, are also the ones that feature a wider offer of movie theatres. Most movie theatres in Portugal are single-screen venues, whereas multiple screen theatres are located mostly in the most densely populated urban areas, home to the most frequent cinema-attending public in the country.

According to Instituto do Cinema e do Audiovisual (ICA), box office revenues amounted to 33 million euro throughout the first semester of 2009, as a result of the attendance by 7.2 million spectators. 133 films premiered during the aforementioned period, including 14 domestic productions. In 2008, 234 films premiered in Portugal, attended by 16 million spectators with total box office revenues of 70 million euro. During this same year only 15 domestic productions premiered in the country, whereas the remaining lot was made up mostly by American productions or American/European co-productions.

Lusomundo Audiovisuais stands out as the main distributor in the country: the company boasts a market share of over 50 percent. Prisvideo, Castello Lopes Multimedia and Columbia Tristar Warner are also relevant players in the domestic distribution business. As regards film projection to audiences Lusomundo Cinema holds a dominant market share of roughly 50 percent, followed by Socorama – Castello Lopes Cinema and UCI – Cinema International Corporation. In comparison with the most successful films produced in the EU throughout the last decade, American and American-led US/EU co-productions clearly stand out in terms of box office revenues.

The most viewed films during the first semester of 2009 were Angels and Demons, The Strange Case of Benjamin Button and Slumdog Millionaire (up to 300,000 attendants each). In contrast, the most successful Portuguese production in terms of attendance was Second Life, attracting a relatively modest audience of around 90 thousand attendants. American films have long and steadily held to the top of the distributors’ catalogues, as the distribution market is essentially led by the American major labels.

In Portugal and across Europe alike, the cinema industry heavily relies upon public funding. Enacted in 2004, the new law of cinema and audiovisual sets out a shift in public policies by promoting cinema, including the production, distribution and exhibition industries from a market-oriented perspective, and by stimulating the participation of private investors in the sector. The new law contemplates the creation of a Capital Fund of Investment (FIC – Fundo de Investimento de Capital) to support the cinema and audiovisual markets, whose contributors are subscription television services, cinema and video distributors, advertisers and cinema exhibitors.

The Portuguese telecommunication sector was deregulated at the beginning of the 1990s, which had as an immediate effect the end of the monopoly by Portugal Telecom and the entrance of new competitors in the market of telephone fixed telephony. After the deregulation it occurred an expansion of telecommunication services, supplied by private companies, which comprised not only fixed telephony services but also mobile communications and cable television services.

In 1996, Portugal Telecom was privatised and enlarged its intervention to the markets of mobile, cable television, Internet, content production and distribution. The Portuguese State holds a golden share in the company's capital. According to latest data available, mobile phone penetration  in Portugal reached about 146 percent of the population in the third trimester of 2009, which corresponds to 15.5 million subscribers. In the European Union, Portugal holds the 5th most high penetration rate of mobile phones users. The UMTS services is increasing since 2007 (up to 5.2 millions users in the 3rd trimester of 2009). Vodafone Portugal, TMN and Optimus are the main service providers.

Mobile phone service clearly supplants the telephone fixed telephony. This service has a penetration rate of about 38.5 percent of the population, which corresponds to 4.2 million subscribers. Portugal Telecom holds the main position in this market, with a share of around 65 percent, followed by Sonaecom (15 percent), Zon (10 percent), Cabovisão (6 percent), Vodafone (2 percent), Oni (1 percent) and Ar Telecom (0.8 percent).

The telecommunication market is supervised by Anacom – National Authority of Communications, which monitors the electronic communications as well as the postal sector in Portugal, including telephony and the Internet and radio.

Main features 

  • In the first trimester of 2008 the penetration rate of Internet climb to 49.8 percent of the households
  • The majority of national and regional media, including press, radio and television, holds an Internet website
  • Web-Tvs are becoming very popular in the short term but no prospects can be traced for the future

According to Instituto Nacional de Estatísticas (INE - National Statistics Institute), in the first trimester of 2008, 49.8 percent of the households possessed computer and 46.0 percent were connected to the Internet. ANACOM statistics indicate that, at the end of 2008, there were around 1.7 millions subscribers of Internet services in Portugal, the majority (98 percent) using broadband connection. The ADSL (Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line) technology and cable are the main platforms of access to broadband Internet.

Broadband Internet mobile networks service is also becoming popular and rapidly increasing, with the number of active consumers reaching up to 1.16 million at the end of 2008.


The first online media projects were created in the second half of the 1990s. Setúbal na Rede, a regional newspaper brand, was the first media project created on the web, in 1998. General information national dailies Jornal de Notícias, Público and Diário de Notícias were the first to update their respective electronic editions.

Today the majority of national and regional media, including press, radio and television, holds an Internet website. It is interesting to observe the evolution of established editorial projects. For instance the closest and bi-directional relationship with readers or the integration of “blogosphere” and social networks into traditional media. The launching of exclusively electronic projects was attempted (for example, Diário Digital, Portugal Diário, Cotonete). Cotonete, an innovative project created in 2001, consists of a website which allows individuals to customise their own radio station (“personal radio”) according to their own music preferences.

The sustainability of Internet projects, including web-TVs, is however the major concern of media companies, confronted with the funding issue: ad market remains problematically cautious and there are doubts regarding the willingness of readers to pay for online news contents.       

Like in other countries, the question of whether online journalism shall rise as a fourth type of journalism is still unanswered. The fact is that separated newsroom for “traditional” and “online” media is deemed a flaw and now the tendency is to merge in one single newsroom.

Main features 

  • The introduction in Portugal of digital terrestrial radio and television has been rather slower than expected. Switch-off must occur until 2012
  • RDP didn't start yet the massive distribution of  national digital network of radio broadcasting

Although there is some optimism around new technologies and the process of migration to digital, the introduction in Portugal of digital terrestrial radio and television has been rather slower than expected. The license ascribed in 2001 to a consortium to operate a platform of Digital Terrestrial Television ended up being revoked. After the launching of a new license opening contest in 2008, Portugal Telecom application was the selected one, against the Swedish Airplus. The commercial exploration should begin in 2010. Portugal is behind schedule in this field comparing to other European countries and bearing in mind that the switch-off must occur until 2012, according to European policies.

RDP has won the bid for management of national digital network of radio broadcasting – in which it invested significantly over the last years, having adopted the DAB system - Digital Audio Broadcasting. In Portugal digital radio emissions can be heard since 1998, but massive utilisation of this technology will only take place if large scale distribution of equipment to cars as well as to homes occur.

Main features 

  • At the national level there is only one news agency, Lusa, with a shareholder structure combining public and private stakeholders
  • Lusa is in the process of implementing a new strategy to become a “multimedia news agency”

Lusa, Agência de Notícias de Portugal, is a company mostly made up by State-owned capital, with the participation of the main media national companies. Lusa is bounded through contract celebrated with the Portuguese State to provide news and informational services of public interest. Some 200 journalists, joined by 80 collaborators in Portugal and abroad, work in its newsroom. It has a web of delegations and correspondents that cover almost all countries, as well as Portuguese speaking countries. There are correspondents in more than thirty major cities in the five continents. Traditional media are still the main clients, representing around 50 percent, but electronic media and non media clients are growing in importance. Among its clients we find a great number of regional and local newspapers and radio stations as well as media published within Portuguese communities abroad. Other of its specific characteristics is the privileged connection which maintains with African Portuguese spoken countries.   

Lusa offers content available in text format, photography, audio and television, and covers the following news services: national, economics, sports, international and Africa. As a way of making the company more profitable, Lusa has expanded also to production services, namely in the business field, designed for companies with no media liaison.  

In 2008 the news agency starts implementing the configuration of the newsroom into a “multimedia newsroom”, within the project to transform its concept into a “multimedia news agency”.

Main features 

  • Journalists and media owners have the most powerful organisations within media organisations        

There are about 7,500 journalists in Portugal, accredited with the appropriate professional title, although not all are actually employed. About 3,000 are organised in the National Journalists Union (Sindicato Nacional dos Jornalistas), an European Federation of Journalists (FEJ), and International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) member.

Other organisations

Besides the Union, there are many other journalistic organisations, which act in cultural, training and health assistance fields. Clube de Jornalistas (Press Club) publishes every three months a magazine, Jornalismo e Jornalistas (Journalism and Journalists); every two weeks it broadcasts a TV program in public channel RTP2, where media and journalistic issues are debated; it also has a website ( and every year awards journalists with Prémios Gazeta (Gazeta Prizes), the most prestigious awards in journalistic field (endorsed by the President of Portuguese Republic).

Casa da Imprensa (Press House) is a mutual association, founded in 24 April 1905.

Confederação Portuguesa de Meios de Comunicação Social (Portuguese Media Confederation) is the largest entrepreneurs' association in media sector, direct or indirectly representing more than a thousand media players. Some of Confederation reference members are Associação Portuguesa de Imprensa (Portuguese Press Association), which represents 450 newspapers and magazines; Associação Portuguesa de Radiodifusão (Portuguese Radio Association), which represents more than 200 national and local radio stations; and furthermore RTP, SIC, TVI and Agência Lusa. Within its members we also must indicate Associação de Imprensa de Inspiração Cristã (Christian Press Association), and Associação de Rádios de Inspiração Cristã (Christian Radio Association), the latter with 70 members.           

CENJOR, Centro Protocolar de Formação Profissional para Jornalistas (Journalistic Professional Training Centre), founded in 1986, associates official professional training institutions, the journalists union and entrepreneur associations. CENJOR financing program is assured by public funding: state and European Social Fund. The nature of CENJOR training is mainly practical, supplementing the kind of teaching offered by more than 30 undergraduate and graduate media and journalism courses in Portugal.

There are two other news agencies in Portugal. Agência Ecclesia belongs to the Catholic Church and is more concerned with religious issues. Agência Financeira (Media Capital group) is a media outlet specialised in business news. The main international news agencies have delegations in Portugal, such as Reuters and Associated France Press.

Main features 

  • The revision of the law concerning the journalists’ status generated adverse reactions and much controversy within the class
  • The President of the Republic pushed back the Government proposal to regulate the property concentration of media companies    

Media regulation, legal framework revision, local and regional media public grants, property media concentration and political pluralism are major concerns of political representatives in the last two decades, expressed in public policies applied to media sector.              

Cavaco Silva Governments (1985-1995) brought a media policy characterised by privatisation and liberalisation. Cavaco Silva’s Cabinets decided, between 1985 and 1995, to open television sector to private initiative and to legalise hundreds of local radios which spread all over the country since the 1980s. The same liberal policies, which meant the progressive withdraw of State from media sector, were applied to press market (for instance, Diário de Notícias and Jornal de Notícias were privatised).         

After Antonio Guterres’s six-year socialist Governments (1995-2001), XV Constitutional Government Program, conducted by José Manuel Durão Barroso (2002-2004), defined again more liberal policies for media sector.         

In 2005, the XVII Constitutional Government Program, headed by José Sócrates, proposed the following major measures for the media sector: the creation of a new media regulator; the prevention of a more relevant State economic participation in media enterprises besides RTP, RDP and Lusa; the devise of new legislation to control property concentration and abuse of dominant position; the limitation of horizontal, vertical and multimedia property concentration among media companies; the transition to digital platforms.          

Although the Government attempts to propose new legislation in order to regulate property concentration and abuse of dominant position within media companies where frustrated by President Cavaco Silva, who in 2009 vetoed the Pluralism and Non-Concentration Media Property Law.           

The revision of the Journalist Status was, on the other hand, followed by intense controversy within professional journalists, who criticise the virtual shrinkage of the protection of confidential news sources. Journalists were also in profound disagreement with the creation of a professional ethics committee within Comissão da Carteira Profissional dos Jornalistas - the organisation which grants access to the profession. Such controversy did not stop the revision of the law and the ethical committee is already in functions.

The professional ethics committee created within Comissão da Carteira Profissional do Jornalista, an organisation headed by a judge and where journalists and entrepreneurs are represented, will eventually enforce compliance with professional ethics principles, admonishing or punishing journalists in case of misconduct.           

In turn, Union Journalists Professional Ethics Council addresses recommendations based on Ethic Journalist Code principles, document approved by journalists in May 1993.          

Created for the first time in Portugal in 1997, an ombudsman exists nowadays in Record, Diário de Notícias and Público daily newspapers. In April 2006 the figures of television and radio ombudsmen were created, which deal with audiences' commentaries, complaints and suggestions addressed to RTP and RDP.

The reform of regulatory framework implied the creation of a new media regulation entity in 2006 with reinforced power and tasks, the Entidade Reguladora para a Comunicação Social (ERC).

The new media regulator - Entidade Reguladora para a Comunicação Social (ERC) – initiated functions in March 2006, articulated with Autoridade Nacional das Comunicações (Anacom) and Autoridade da Concorrência (market and competition authority). The reform of regulatory framework implied the extinction of Alta Autoridade para a Comunicação Social (AACS – Media High Council) and Instituto da Comunicação Social (ICS – Institute for the Media), the latter reorganised as Gabinete para os Meios de Comunicação Social (Media Services Office).

ERC is a public agency independent from the Government and whose board members are elected by Parliament. It pursues the assurance of the following structuring principles: pluralism and diversity; freedom of information; citizens fundamental rights; protection of more sensitive public and audiences, such as children and elderly people; accuracy and reliable nature of information. To avoid an excessive media property concentration affecting principles such as pluralism and diversity, is one of ERC's main tasks; the media regulator watches over the attempts of economic and political power to influence and jeopardise media independence. In addition, ERC should promote co-regulation and encourage self-regulation mechanisms.

Several universities (in Lisboa, Braga, Coimbra, Porto, Aveiro, Covilhã) offer research and investigative centres in media and communication studies. Two national institutions congregate professors, investigators and professionals: Associação Portuguesa de Ciências da Comunicação (SOPCOM – Portuguese Association of Communication Studies) and Centro de Investigação Media e Jornalismo, the latter turned specifically to the study of the journalistic field and now being hosted by the New University of Lisboa (Faculdade de Ciências Sociais e Humanas, Universidade Nova de Lisboa).

There are several magazines and journals concerned with media studies: Jornalismo e Jornalistas (every three month), edited by Clube de Jornalistas; Media XXI (every two month), which also focuses publicity, marketing and managerial activities; and, in the academics field Media & Jornalismo (two numbers a year), published by CIMJ; Revista de Comunicação e Linguagens (two numbers a year), published by Centro de Estudos de Comunicação e Linguagens from Universidade Nova de Lisboa; Trajectos (two numbers a year), published by ISCTE – Instituto Superior de Ciências do Trabalho e da Empresa; Comunicação e Sociedade (two numbers a year), published by Centro de Estudos de Comunicação e  Sociedade from Universidade do Minho; Comunicação e Cultura, published by Universidade Católica Portuguesa; Comunicação Pública, published by Escola Superior de Comunicação Social.

Portuguese media market is a very stable one in its uncertainty, so there aren’t many changes to register in the last few years. Of course the decrease of ad revenues and investment affects dramatically the performance of the sector, with implications in terms of quality of the content and services provided. And again this is not specifically a Portuguese juncture but an international one. The free daily press still is in good shape, with the launching of new publications, but the future of print press, free or paid, is unpredictable. Surprisingly, against all odds, new editorial projects arise like the national daily i, and creative and multimedia strategies are being defined and implemented to reinvent traditional brands or create new ones.      

In spite of the economic difficulties they go through, main media conglomerates reinforce their positions and probably will grow even further, in the country and abroad, which raises questions regarding the future of pluralism (social and political) and of employment of journalists and other professionals. Government may again attempt to approve the law to promote pluralism and non-concentration of media companies property but one must bare in mind that legislative diplomas in themselves do not automatically guarantee such principles and may even contribute to distort the functioning of the market.

Issues such as the future of journalism and journalists have never been risen so strongly as in contemporary advanced democracies, which shows the interdependency between journalism and democratic system. Nowadays it deepens the professional fragility and identity crisis of journalists, tied up between contradictory demands: the respect for professional and ethic rules and the corporate interest for information essentially turned to audiences and commercialisation.     

As a consequence of progressive development of convergence processes, stimulated by growing implementation of new technologies, it is notorious the decrease of journalism specific weight and its dilution within a content industry predominantly driven by commercialism and entertainment. Digital journalism identity evolution is an incognito in the short term but it appears that in the future the distinction between traditional and online journalists will be blurred.            

Transition to digital radio and television and digital switch-off are taking longer than previously foreseen, but European constraints my push this development. 

Convergences between technologies, networks, services and enterprises will most probably stimulate an approximation between media and communication regulators but for the next political cycle (2009-2013) separated regulations will still hold.

  • Autoridade Nacional das Comunicações (ANACOM)
  • Associação Portuguesa de Imprensa (API)
  • Associação Portuguesa para o Controlo de Tiragem e Circulação (APCT)
  • Change Partners/ Escola Superior de Comunicação Social, O Sector da Radiodifusão Local em Portugal, ERC, Lisboa (2009)
  • Correia, Fernando, Jornalismo, Grupos Económicos e Democracia, Editorial Caminho, Lisboa (2006)
  • ERC, Relatório de Regulação 2008 (2009)
  • Eric Pfanner, “Publisher in Portugal picks a fine time to start a newspaper”, In The New York Times, November 8 2009
  • Instituto do Cinema e do Audiovisual (ICA)
  • ISCTE, Estudo de Recepção dos Meios de Comunicação Social, ERC, Lisboa (2008)
  • Faustino, Paulo, A Imprensa em Portugal. Transformações e Tendências, Media XXI, Lisboa (2005)
  • Marktest, Anuário de Media e Publicidade 2008 (2009)
  • Rebelo, José (coord.), “Os Jornalistas Portugueses”, Trajectos – Revista de Comunicação, Cultura e Educação, n.º 12, Casa das Letras (2008)

Fernando Correia
Univesity: Universidade Lusófona de Humanidades e Tecnologias
Campo Grande, 376
1749 - 024 Lisboa
Tel:+351 808 200 739

Carla Martins
Univesity: Universidade Lusófona de Humanidades e Tecnologias
Campo Grande, 376
1749 - 024 Lisboa
Tel:+351 808 200 739