Over the last decade, the Italian publishing industry has experienced a sharp slowdown in sales volume. Between 2007 and 2015, revenue dropped by more than 30%, from 41.4 to 30.6 billion euros. According to the latest report by the Federazione Italiana Editori Giornali (Italian Federation Newspapers Publishers - FIEG), total revenues for Italian dailies have decreased from €3.9 billion in 2007 to less than €2 billion in 2015. The average daily circulation has also dropped by around 2.5 million copies per day (without considering the “free press”) from 5.4 to 2.9 million copies over the same period. These data confirm the long-term weaknesses of the Italian daily press industry, which, despite their budding digital editions, do not seem to be able to compensate for losses in the print press sector. Indeed, over the course of 2014, the total circulation of printed newspapers lost an average of 800,000 copies per day against an average growth of 100,000 digital copies per day. Advertising revenues have also suffered. Between 2009 and 2015, the publishing industry lost about 50% of its total advertising revenues, falling from €2.3 to €1.2 million. Of this loss, €755,000 belonged to dailies and €475,000 to weeklies and monthlies.
Data on the number of readers tells a similar story. According to the 2015/III Audipress survey, the percentage of customary readers (“readers on the average day”) dropped by 22% between 2010 and 2015. By the end of 2015, only 18.7 million people, approximately one out of three Italians, read newspapers regularly, with 14 million Italians declaring they never read them at all. On the other hand, 39 million Italians stated that they had read at least one newspaper in the past 30 days.
The Italian newspaper market is divided among 84 publishing companies, of which 68, or 81%, published just one newspaper. In terms of economic power, the most important companies are: Gruppo Editoriale L’Espresso, with 20.5% market share; RCS MediaGroup, with 18.9%; Caltagirone Editore, with 7.2%; Monrif, with 7%; Il Sole 24 Ore, with 6.2%; and, Itedi, with 6%. It should be noted that, at the time of writing, a merger between Itedi and L’Espresso was in progress. Should this merger be successful, it will give birth to one of the largest publishing companies in Europe and reinforce L’Espresso’s leadership position in Italy.
The news outlets run by each of these publishing companies are outlined below:
- Gruppo Editoriale L’Espresso: la Repubblica, Messaggero Veneto (local), Alto Adige (local), La Nuova Sardegna (local), Il Tirreno (local), l’Espresso, National Geographic Italia, Micromega, and Limes.
- RCS MediaGroup: Corriere della Sera, La Gazzetta dello Sport (sport news), Abitare, Amica, Oggi, Dolce Attesa and Dove.
- Caltagirone Editore: Il Messaggero, Il Mattino (local), Il Gazzettino (local), Nuovo Quotidiano di Puglia (local) and Corriere Adriatico (local).
- Monrif: Quotidiano Nazionale together with il Resto del Carlino (local), La Nazione (local), Il Giorno (local), Quotidiano Sportivo (sport news), and Cavallo Magazine.
- Il Sole 24 Ore S.p.A.: Il Sole 24 Ore (economic news), Fisco e Contabilità, La Settimana Fiscale, Guida al Lavoro and several other periodicals devoted to professional training.
- Itedi: La Stampa, L’Avvisatore Marittimo (nautical news) and Il Secolo XIX (local).
The Mondadori group, owned by the Berlusconi family, deserves separate treatment. Although it is primarily involved in book publishing, it also publishes Il Giornale and several weeklies, which have a very high circulation. The right-oriented weekly, Panorama, is just one example.
In total, 123 subscription newspapers are published every day. As per 2015 data from Accertamento Diffusione Stampa (Press Circulation Verification – ADS), Corriere della Sera is the most diffused newspaper, with an average daily circulation of more than 307,500 copies. This paper has no clear political leaning and is generally oriented towards the centre of the political spectrum. It is followed by la Repubblica, a centre-left oriented paper, with 275,200 copies; La Stampa, the other centre-oriented paper, with 183,600 copies; and, Il Sole 24 Ore, a business paper, with 157,100 copies. Il Giornale, the main centre-right-oriented paper has a circulation of 82,900 copies, followed by Libero with 50,600 copies. Finally, L’Avvenire, the catholic paper, has a circulation of 109,100 copies.
Compared with other countries, local newspapers have a minor circulation and play a limited role in agenda setting. Nevertheless, some local papers do reach circulation levels as high as their national brothers. For example, in 2015, il Resto del Carlino, La Nazione and Il Mattino, achieved average circulations of 112,000, 87,400, and 45,500 copies per day respectively. Again, freesheets are not as common in Italy and their circulation is further on the decline. However, Italy does boast two successful freesheets: Metro, founded in 2000 and today distributed in Rome, Milan, Turin, Genoa, Florence and Bologna; and, Leggo, established in 2001 by Caltagirone Editore and today distributed in Rome and Milan. According to the 2015/III Audipress survey, Metro has an average of 812,000 readers per day, while Leggo has an average of 709,000 readers per day. No data on their circulation are available, since they are not included in the ADS monitoring.
As for Italy’s weeklies, the most widely diffused publications are typically devoted to television programmes and gossip. DiPiù boasts the largest circulation, with 592,000 copies a week, followed by Tv Sorrisi e Canzoni’s 567,000 copies, Tele7’s 380,000 copies, and DiPiù Tv’s circulation of 327,000 copies. Il Venerdì, a weekly associated with the daily la Repubblica, is the most popular publication that is not related to television, with 333,000 copies, followed by Famiglia Cristiana, with its circulation of 328,000 copies.