The daily press is the least popular medium in Slovakia. Only 19 percent respondents read daily newspapers (daily or almost daily, according to Eurobarometer 84, p.8). However, according to another source (MEDIAN, 2016), 31 percent of the Slovaks read daily newspapers (“read yesterday”) while 67 percent read at least once in the last 14 days in early 2016 (down from 71 percent in 2013). These two data may not be seen as contradictory, but rather complementary. The real number of regular readers of traditionally understood daily printed press can be around a quarter of the population. Moreover, there is an increasing number of those who subscribe and read only online editions of printed versions of newspapers. For example, newspaper Sme sold 12,800 subscriptions of its online edition (in addition to an average of 27,750 hard copies sold) in September 2016. This ratio of hard copies sold versus digital copies was even more pronounced in newspaper Denník N (3,500 hard copies versus 19,000 “copies“ of the digital edition). Thus, maybe some respondents (or questionnaires) do not differentiate among “digital“ and “hard“ copies of newspapers. In any case, Sečík (2014) has calculated that the average circulation of the daily press per 1,000 citizens in Slovakia was less than half of the average of the European Union member states, and four or five times less than that in comparatively similar states such as Finland or Denmark.
Probably the oldest Slovak weekly newspaper is Catholic weekly Katolícke noviny, published for some 160 years. The most popular is tabloid newspaper Nový Čas (New Time). This is followed by another tabloid Plus Jeden Deň ( One More Day).
Nový Čas is an offshoot of Čas, which under communism was a marginal newspaper of a former puppet political party. Nový Čas however, displays a radical transformation both in the content and circulation. It is a generalist newspaper with no political affiliation. The number of sold copies in September 2016 was 89,000. It is owned by Ringier Axel Springer.
Plus Jeden Deň has been published for a decade. The number of sold copies was 42,000 in September 2016. It is owned by the Penta.
The quality press is represented by newspapers Pravda (Truth), Sme (We Are), Denník N (Daily N) and business/economic daily Hospodárske noviny (Economy Newspaper).
Pravda self-defines as a liberal-left (center-left) oriented daily newspaper. It boasts almost a century-long history as the former official newspaper of the former communist party. It does not verify its circulation independently, but it stated its average daily circulation for 2015 at over 61,000 copies. Its ownership structure is unclear too. Officially, there is a single owner. The daily has been owned by the Florena company since 2010. The business deal was facilitated by the Slovak investment group J&T. This financial group is seen by some people as linked to businessmen close to the political party Smer-SD. These claims are difficult to confirm or dismiss, but there are some puzzling issues behind the Florena company. First, Florena is exclusively involved in the property business. Second, the company’s headquarters are in Prague, in the Czech Republic. This is not necessarily unusual however, considering that Mr. Biermann actually has two private addresses, one in Slovakia and one in the Czech Republic, as well as other companies registered in the Czech Republic. Initially, the J&T group did not exclude a possible direct interest in purchasing Pravda, and have the right of first buyer in the event that the daily should be put up for sale. All these circumstances raise more doubts than answers.
Sme is considered as a liberal-right (center-right) oriented quality/elite newspaper, though it does not openly declare either ideological or political affiliation. Established in 1993, most of its original staff seceded from the daily Smena as a result of the political pressure of the government at that time. The number of sold hard copies in September 2016 was over 27,000. In July 2016, P.M. Robert Fico labelled the key agenda setting daily Sme as an anti-government, biased and even seditious daily newspaper. Newspaper Sme is co-owned by Penta, which, however, has a minority share (partly as a result of public discussion) and thus practically, for the time being, zero editorial influence.
Denník N (established 2014/2015) is, ironically, an off-shot of daily Sme. However, this time there was no political pressure behind the decision to leave and found a new daily newspaper, but rather market pressure. More specifically, a large part of leading editors of daily Sme was afraid of the new owner, the private investment group Penta (seen as promoting a hostile takeover).
Penta has purchased more media since 2014 (currently concentrated mostly under News and Media Holding). Penta has purchased the publishing house Trend Holding (publishes weekly Trend and portal on media Medialne.sk), as well as publishing company Spoločnosť 7 Plus (eg newspaper Plus Jeden Deň, weekly Plus 7 dní, webportal Aktualne.sk). Penta has expanded into the media market in the Czech Republic too.
Hospodárske noviny newspaper was previously a federal weekly periodical, but after the breakup of Czechoslovakia in 1993, it has been converted into a business daily – the only one of its kind at present in Slovakia. The paper can be seen as an elite newspaper and does not claim to follow any specific ideology, but it clearly shows free enterprise leanings. In coverage of economy it shows centre-right liberal positions, while in political issues it might be defined as a centrist newspaper (neither ideologically conservative, nor liberal). The number of sold copies in September 2016 was 11,650. It is owned by a Czech entrepreneur and currently Czech politician, Andrej Babiš.
There is a specialised sport newspaper Denník Šport (Daily Sport). There also is a regional newspaper Új Szó (New Word) published in Hungarian language and covering southern parts of Slovakia. The number of sold copies in September 2016 was 17,500. Regional or rather city dailies also include Korzár (city of Košice, number of sold copies in September 2016 was 9,000) and Prešovský večerník (city of Prešov). Prešovský večerník claims to publish 9,000 copies.