The written press has endured a deep crisis throughout the last years, with loss of readers and advertising. The only Portuguese tabloid newspaper, 24 Horas, ceased publication in 2010. An emerging media group of the early 21st century, Ongoing, with a significant presence in the economic news, went into insolvency in 2015, ceasing to publish the newspaper Diário Económico and to broadcast the Económico TV channel in 2016.
The number of active publications has been decreasing in Portugal, but it is still quite impressive. By the end of 2016, a total of 1,845 were registered at ERC, including 14.4 percent daily, 11.3 percent weekly and 25.9 percent montly. Most of these publications correspond to magazines and only 652 to newspapers (140 daily, 154 weekly, 179 monthly). About 23 percent of publications are published exclusively on the Internet and 18 percent is published simultaneously on paper and online.
The Instituto Nacional de Estatística (National Institute of Statistics) points a consecutive fall in the sales of press copies in the last 10 years. If more than 446m copies were sold in 2004, by the end of 2014 this indicator dropped to approximately 250m (minus 43.9 percent).
After increases between 2004 and 2008, the circulation of the press has also been suffering from falls. There was a drop of 31.1 percent in the overall circulation of the free press between 2004 and 2014 and the end of some editorial projects in this segment (e.g., Meia Hora and Global News).
Press circulation data released in 2017 by the Associação Portuguesa para o Controlo de Tiragens e Circulação (Portuguese Association for the Control of Circulation - APCT) confirms the downward trend that also affects leading generalist and specialized publications.
At the same time, there has been an increase in digital signatures, although the figures do not compensate for paper losses.
The most widely read newspapers, Correio da Manhã (101,468 copies per issue) and Jornal de Notícias (54,791), present popular characteristics. The first has entered the television business with a successful cable TV channel, the CMTV. The investment in a television project by consolidated press companies can be seen as a trend. A Bola, the oldest and one of the most read national sports newspapers, also invested in a television channel.
Almost all of the newspapers and magazines with great circulation are integrated in large economic groups (large at a Portuguese level, but with small significance at a European level). The main publishing companies are:
- Cofina Media. Great influence on the press sector, owns the daily Correio da Manhã, the economic newspaper Jornal de Negócios, the sports daily newspaper Record, the free newspaper Destak, the newsmagazine Sábado and several specialised magazines.
- Global Media Group. Owns the centennial diaries Jornal de Notícias and Diário de Notícias, the sports daily newspaper O Jogo, the digital economic newspaper Dinheiro Vivo and several specialised magazines and reference regional newspapers such as Jornal do Fundão, Açoriano Oriental and Diário de Notícias da Madeira.
- Grupo Impresa. Property of the former prime minister Francisco Pinto Balsemão. In the press, it holds the main national weekly newspaper, Expresso, the newsmagazine Visão, the cultural newspaper Jornal de Letras and several specialized magazines.
- Sonaecom. This branch of the holding Sonae, run by Paulo de Azevedo, son of Belmiro de Azevedo, one of Portugal’s most notorious entrepreneurs, owns the daily quality paper Público.
- Newsplex. This company took over the Newsholding projects and titles, which include the daily I and the weekly Sol.
- Megafin. With a presence in the segment of economic publications, at the end of 2016 restructured the weekly OJE, which was renamed O Jornal Económico.
- Impala. Property of Jacques Rodrigues, it holds some of the country’s most sold publications, including magazines specialized in television, women and society, like Maria (with an average circulation of 145,420 copies per issue in 2016, the highest circulation of the Portuguese press), Nova Gente or TV7Dias.
- RBA – Revistas Portugal. This Spanish editor publishes the Portuguese editions of National Geographic, Elle and other specialized magazines.
- Masemba. Present in the Portuguese market since June 2013, it has a portfolio of magazines in the areas of society, women and lifestyle, which includes Lux, Lux Women and Revista dos Vinhos magazines.
The local and regional press is very scattered, has only a minor circulation and plays a limited role in the agenda setting. Nevertheless, we can mention some historically relevant publications, such as Açoriano Oriental, the country’s oldest newspaper still in circulation (founded in 1835). On the other hand, although smaller, several local publishing projects are successful and profitable, take advantage of digital technologies and show professionalism in management and journalistic practices. The Catholic Church is, directly or indirectly, one of the main owners of regional and local press.