The contemporary media system in Spain, consolidated from the 1980s onwards and which has largely survived to the present day, has begun to show signs of exhaustion. A combination of economic, technological and sociopolitical factors is opening the way to a new media landscape, with emerging players and new informative offers.
The economic crisis, which affected Spain particularly severely between 2008 and 2012, has accentuated the erosion of the media model in force for more than three decades in the country. Years of decline in sales and advertising, failed investments and stagnant business structures have resulted in several newspaper companies accumulating a multi-million-Euro debt.
There are some media, particularly television, that continue to be enormously lucrative and provide great profits to the companies that dominate that sector. However, even in this area, the emergence of new digital competitors, in many cases from abroad, has caused uncertainty about the future of the companies that control the market today. The situation of printed media is much more critical, because of its constant loss of audience and advertising investment. Meanwhile, the radio manages to maintain its niche, without its audiences or its advertising revenues being significantly diminished.
This situation of crisis or, at least, stagnation of traditional media, coincides with a proliferation of digital media. In the last decade, hundreds of digital publications of all kinds have been launched in Spain. Only a few have managed to achieve high brand recognition and have found a niche in the large media market, both at regional and even national level. The high degree of consolidation of digital native media has made Spain an international benchmark in this respect (Nicholls et al, 2016).
It is still too early, however, to gauge the real magnitude of this shift in the media landscape in Spain. Large corporations have begun to move by launching long-range digital projects, and have set up alliances with emerging media to reinforce their offer. Time will tell if in the coming years this process will result in the substitution of traditional brands for emerging ones, or in the coexistence of both in a scenario which, in any event, will have changed profoundly with respect to the one existing in recent decades.