Today, all media outlets are facing their most difficult times ever, but it is the print media (newspapers and magazines) which are suffering the most. Although press decline in terms of sales, readership and advertising revenue is a worldwide phenomenon, the Greek press has entered a state of permanent crisis since the mid 1990s. Since then, fewer and fewer Greeks read a newspaper on a daily basis (Papathanassopoulos 2016). Total sales of the national newspaper sector have dropped about 15 percent while the biggest losses are observed in daily editions. Even worse, today, it seems that the political will to help newspapers out of a crisis has ceased. Indeed, the current left government seems, due to the circumstances, reluctant to help the press by means of press aid or subsidies. Some have already closed, like the well-known Eleftherotypia, a daily newspaper once published in Athens. It was one of the most widely circulated newspapers in the country. In June 2017, the historic but financially distressed – Dimosiografikos Organismos Lambraki (DOL) came under the control of shipowner Mr. Evangelos Marinakis after a public auction, and won the tender by offering 22.89 million euros to the lenders (banks). Even worse, today, it seems that the political will to help newspapers out of a crisis has ceased. Indeed, the current left government seems, due to the circumstances, reluctant to help the press by means of press aid or subsidies. Mr. Ivan Savidis after a public auction bought-up bankrupted Pegasus Group (newspapers Ethnos, the Sunday edition Ethnos tis Kyriakis for 3 million euros and Imerisia for 580.000 euros). Imerisia is not published until today, but it is distributed as an section within Ethnos daily edition. Ethnos daily and Ethnos tis Kiriakis (Sunday) editions are published but under the management of 24Media. Liberal (Fileleftheros) newspaper was published as a daily and Sunday edition by journalist Mr. Thanasis Mavridis.
Although the level of population literacy is high (1.5 out of ten have a university degree), newspaper readership is very low (53 in 1,000 in 2010 (WAN 2010). Nowadays, there are around 280 local, regional and national daily newspapers in Greece. In 2016, the country had 15 national daily newspapers (among them TA NEA, Kathimerini, Efirmerda Syntakton, Dimokratia, Espresso, Ethnos, Eleftheros Typos, Avgi, Rizospastis), 11 national daily sports newspapers (among them Sportday, Goal News, Fos ton Sport), four national business newspapers (among them Imerisia, Naftemporiki), 16 national Sunday papers (among them Proto Thema, To Vima, Real News, Katimerini tis Kyriakis,, Ethnos tis Kyriakis, Eleftheros Typos tis Kyriakis, Dimokratia tis Kyriakis, Documento, Avgi tis Kyriakis), and 10 national weekly papers (among them Parapolitika, Sto Karfi), most of which are located in Athens.
Moreover, in a country with 40 percent of the population residing in the wider Athens region, it is not surprising that the Athenian press dominates the national market. Therefore, more than half of the daily newspaper circulation is observed in Athens and the Athenian press has become national in scope and in sales too (since half of its sales are made in the rest of Greece). Only some regions still prefer their local newspapers, but mainly as a secondary choice. Another characteristic is that there is a strong Sunday press, again mainly originating from Athens, since almost all dailies have their Sunday edition. Most of the Sunday papers offer a supplement or they have increased their number of pages in order to cater for the interest of a wider readership, especially younger readers.
But, as mentioned above, Greece has one of the lowest newspaper readerships in the developed world. Critically, the entrance of new private TV channels and radio stations in the early 1990s, and the advent of free dailies and the Internet in the beginning of the new century, has led newsprint demand to further decrease every year (Papathanassopoulos 2010).
On the other hand, the Greek press has tried to cope with these new conditions, by re-designing their titles and/or publishing new ones. To increase sales most of the Athenian newspapers have adopted a policy of offering add-on services, such as books and coupons for trips, flats and other consumer goods. Although these marketing and sales efforts were effective and somewhat stopped the decline in sales especially of the daily press, they have forced publishers to rethink their original offers, since selling editorial content without associated offers and products has become difficult (Papathanassopoulos 2001).
The Greek newspaper sector has more peculiarities (Papathanassopoulos 2010). First, while the average circulation of newspapers in Greece is falling, the same cannot be said for the number of daily titles. Although a number of established newspapers have failed and ceased publication over the past ten years, new titles, and old ones under new ownership, have sprung up during the same time. Most recently, four new daily titles (Kontra News, Efimerida ton Syntakton, Epikairotita), and two new Sunday papers (Documento, To Xoni) were brought to life in Athens. Sales, however, have remained significantly low. In November 2000, the first free daily newspaper Metrorama (renamed to Metro) started circulating in Athens, followed by City Press in 2003. In 2016 none of them is circulating, mainly due to the collapse of advertising expenditure as a side effect of the fiscal crisis. However, there are other free newspapers on a weekly basis (among them the most important Lifo, Athens Voice and Free Sunday).
With reference to national newspapers’ circulation, Sunday newspapers take the lead with 59.65 percent of annual sales. Evening and weekly newspapers share the second place (12.43 percent), followed by sports newspapers, (6.67 percent) daily (15.14 percent) and financial (0.35 percent) newspapers (ADNA, 2016). Among the daily newspapers, the market leaders are Kathimerini and Ta NEA, and Proto Thema and To Vima for the Sunday market.
The financial crisis has also heavily affected the magazine sector. Today there are less than 120 magazines in Greece. Life-style, glossy publications have been affected the most.