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To what extent are the media characterized by an ownership structure that ensures a pluralism of opinions?

Diversified ownership structures characterize both the electronic and print media market, providing a well-balanced pluralism of opinions. Effective anti-monopoly policies and impartial, open public media guarantee a pluralism of opinions.
Finland’s media landscape is pluralistic and includes a variety of newspapers and magazines. Moreover, the conditions in which Finland’s journalists operate are said to be among the most favorable in the World. In addition, Finland still boasts an impressive newspaper readership, despite a definite decline in circulation numbers in recent years. According to a recent report by Reporters without Borders, Finland ranks fourth in terms of newspaper readers per capita. However, newspapers do face the prospect of long-term decline due to the rise of the electronic media and increasing economic pressures due to a loss of advertising share and increasing costs. Indeed, during the last decade, user-generated content and online social-media platforms have revolutionized the media landscape. As a rule, newspapers are privately owned but publicly subsidized. The most recent Media Monitor Report pointed out that the high level of concentration in the Finnish media market constituted a high risk for media plurality. Although regional newspapers remain comparatively strong, most local newspapers have been assimilated into larger newspaper chains. Internet use is open and unrestricted, with 89% of the population using the internet, and broadband internet access is defined by law as a universal service that must be available to everyone. According to Official Statistics of Finland, the internet has become an established source of information concerning elections. The national broadcasting company, Yleisradio, operates several national and regional television and radio channels, and supplies a broad range of information online. Although state-owned and controlled by a parliamentary council, Yleisradio has generally been viewed as unbiased. Yleisradio is complemented by several private broadcasting companies.
Citations: k__kulttuuri_en.html#newspaper;
Manninen, Wille. “Monitoring Media Pluralism in Europe 2017. Country Report: Finland,”
Official Statistics of Finland (OSF): Use of information and communications technology by individuals [e-publication]. ISSN=2341-8710. Helsinki: Statistics Finland
There are currently about 35 daily newspapers in Denmark. This includes six daily (Politiken, Jyllands-Posten, Berlingske, Børsen, Kristeligt Dagblad and Information), two main tabloids (BT and Ekstra Bladet) and several smaller regional newspapers, as well as an increasing number of online news sites. Most private publications tend to be conservative or liberal in political philosophy. Left-wing views tend to be underrepresented in editorial pages, but in straight news reporting most newspapers tend to deliver fairly wide-ranging and diverse coverage. The main newspapers regularly include letters to the editor that do not reflect the paper’s own views. So, in practice, there is a high degree of pluralism of opinions in Danish newspapers. A vibrant civil society contributes to this. Today Jyllands-Posten (right-wing/liberal) and Politiken (social democratic/liberal) are run by the same publishing house, but with independent editorial policies and owned by separate foundations. Only one local paper, Skive Folkeblad, is owned by a party, the Social Liberal Party.

The public media (mostly radio and TV) are independent and have editorial freedom. Satellite and cable TV are increasingly creating more competition for public media. In addition, a number of local oriented radio channels exist. Internet access is widespread and not restricted. Denmark ranks among the top five countries in the world in respect to households having internet access.

All newspapers are active on the internet and are moving more toward paid content. Danes increasingly get their information digitally via social media platforms, such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat. The readership of print media has declined substantially in recent years. But traditional print media and TV still play an important role in public debate.
“Media Landscape – Denmark,” (accessed 10 October 2015).
“The media landscape in Denmark,” (accessed 20 October 2014).
“Media Landscape Denmark. Update May 2017,” (Accessed 25 September 2018).
“Denmark Newspapers,” (accessed 16 April 2013).
“Media Insights,” (Accessed 16 October 2017).
Although several national newspapers and TV channels exist in the country, media ownership is increasingly concentrated. In addition to Estonian Public Broadcasting (ERR), there are two large private media companies owned by domestic investors (the Ekspress Group and the Eesti Meedia Group). These companies dominate the print and electronic media market. Print newspapers are struggling with decreasing readership figures and increasing expenses, which has resulted in some media outlets closing and other outlets moving to online only content. Economic hardship has particularly affected local media outlets, forcing the closure of some local newspapers and Tallinn TV, which was owned by the Tallinn city government. Several weeklies (e.g., the Teachers’ Gazette and the cultural weekly Sirp) receive government funds.

High internet and cable-TV penetration rates ensure that most of the population can still access a diverse range of media channels. All major newspapers provide content online and there are two major online only news portals. One of these is publicly funded and run by ERR, while the other, Delfi, is owned by the private Ekspress Group. All TV and radio channels offer an online presence and make increasing use of social media. Some minor online news portals (e.g., the independent and, and the radical-right and enjoy an increasing number of followers.
In Germany, the Interstate Treaty on Broadcasting and Telemedia (Rundfunkstaatsvertrag, RfStV) defines a threshold of average annual viewership share of 30%, over which a broadcaster is considered to have an inadmissible dominance over public opinion (RfStV, Sec. III, Subsection 2). The Federal Cartel Office regulates most questions of oligopoly and monopoly in Germany, and has blocked several potential mergers in both print and electronic media markets.

Two main public television broadcasters operate at the national level in Germany: the Arbeitsgemeinschaft der Rundfunkanstalten Deutschlands (ARD), a conglomerate composed of various regional TV channels, and the Zweites Deutsches Fernsehen (ZDF). According to the Arbeitsgemeinschaft Fernsehforschung (AGF), a broadcast media research group, public broadcasters hold a market share of 44.3%, slightly more than in previous years. In the private sector, the RTL Group holds a 24.3% market share, while the ProSiebenSat.1 Media AG accounts for 18.8% of the total television market. TV is the most commonly used media (80%), followed by radio (65%) and the internet (63%). Daily media use has increased marginally as compared to previous years, with German residents’ average media-consumption time now slightly exceeding five hours per day.
The nationwide print media market is dominated by five leading daily newspapers: Süddeutsche Zeitung, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Die Welt, Handelsblatt and the tabloid Bild. Bild has by far the biggest circulation in Germany. Additional agenda-setters are a number of weeklies, in particular Der Spiegel, Focus, Die Zeit and Stern. However, the latent economic crisis being experienced by newspapers and publishing houses may slowly but steadily undermine media pluralism.

With newspaper circulations continuously falling, the internet has become an increasingly important medium for citizens to gather information. This has forced print media to engage in significant cost cutting measures, including reducing the size of editorial staff. In summary, Germany has a comparatively plural and diversified media ownership structure and modestly decentralized television and radio markets.
Citations: vom 01.11.2019
The state-owned channels control a dominant share of the country’s TV and radio audience ratings, and increasingly also on digital platforms. There are two private TV channels and various private radio channels, including local radio stations. The government does not interfere with the daily activities of the private media but does monitor to ensure that they comply with their contractual obligations, which for national channels includes broadcasting throughout the entire country. A special body called the Norwegian Media Authority (Medietilsynet) is responsible for monitoring and regulating the market.

The stated goal of government regulation of the broadcast-media market is to guarantee that quality remains high and that coverage is national. Cable TV is essentially unregulated beyond the effect of general laws (e.g., there is a ban on pornography).

Newspapers operate independently and express a plurality of views. As elsewhere in the world, newspaper circulation is on the decline, as is print advertising. As a result, many newspapers are under financial strain and have in recent years been forced to cut back on editorial staff. Web-based news outlets are replacing print newspapers and are accounting for a steadily growing market share of media advertising. In the last few years, local newspapers in particular have come under increasing strain resulting from reductions in advertising income and subscription rates.

The concentration of ownership has not to date been perceived as a threat to media plurality. However, private ownership is becoming increasingly oligopolistic across print and broadcast media. The distributors of digital signals have also used their power to change marketplace dynamics. Since digital distribution is becoming increasingly important, the structure of ownership in this channel has a larger negative implication for media plurality. Although there is a tradition of nonintervention by owners in editorial matters, the print media as a body has at critical junctures become politically biased. The media landscape as a whole, as well as the general public debate, demonstrates a noticeable and sometimes-narrow political correctness. Broadband internet is widely used and accessible all over the country.

Increasingly, international digital companies such as Facebook and Google, have gained a huge share of the advertising market, and this has triggered a renewed debate about the role of monopolies in media.
The Swedish media market is highly competitive. There is a very clear distinction between public service and commercial media with the former mitigating the downsides of the latter. The only problem with the growing private media market is that it has a highly centralized ownership structure with significant foreign ownership.

New social media (Facebook, blogs, Twitter, Instagram, etc.) are developing at an amazing speed in Sweden, as elsewhere, and are playing an increasingly important role in politics. Electronic media are most popular with a younger and well-educated demographic. Internet penetration in Sweden is among the highest in the world.
Andersson, U. et al. (eds.) (2017), Larmar och gör sig till (Gothenburg: The SOM Institute) (

Andersson, U., A. Carlander, E. Lindgren, M. Oskarson (eds.) (2018), Sprickor i fasaden (Gothenburg: The SOM Institute).

Johansson, B. et al. (2014), Det politiska spelet. Medborgare, medier och politiker i den representativa demokratin (Lund: Studentlitteratur).

Olsson, J., H. Ekengren Oscarsson and M. Solevid (eds.) (2016), Eqvilibrium (Gothenburg: The SOM Institute).
The most important electronic media organizations in Switzerland in terms of coverage and intensity of citizen use are publicly owned. Private sector television stations play only a small role in the country’s media landscape. These are largely regional stations. A number of foreign radio and television stations can be received in Switzerland, contributing to the country’s media plurality. The country has a high number of privately owned newspapers, with a highly decentralized system of regional concentration. However, a strong tendency toward centralization has weakened the regional newspaper market. This has been amplified by the strong growth of free papers for commuters such as 20 Minuten in the morning (similar publications exist in the French-speaking part of Switzerland). These newspapers have crowded out the readership of traditional newspapers which are collectively suffered from a decline in subscriptions. The number of independent newspapers has also been on the decline as media concentration continues. In parallel, online media consumption is outgrowing print media consumption.

In a popular vote in March 2018, a proposal for a constitutional article on public radio and television was rejected by a large majority of 72%. The proposed article would have prohibited the federal government from subsidizing or running radio and television stations. This would have implied the abandonment of public radio and television. Although rejected, the debate on the initiative triggered reform processes within public radio/television, such as increasing efficiency and resources.
Diversified ownership structures prevail in the electronic and print media market. Public media compensate for deficiencies or biases in private media reporting by representing a wider range of opinions.
The private media market in Czechia has changed significantly in recent years. The most critical tendencies are the concentration of media ownership, the departure of several international owners, and the broadening of the scope of media holdings (print, online, radio and television). The rise of Andrej Babiš to power transformed the media landscape. Babiš’s businesses dominate the daily print media, with an estimated 2.4 million readers, as well as the country’s online media, with an estimated 3.4 million daily users.

More recently, however, the readership for a number of independent weekly publications and several new journalistic projects has grown. On 28 October 2018 (centenary of Czechia’s establishment), following the example of Slovakia’s Denik N (Journal N), a new daily was created with Slovakian advice and a combination of investor- and crowd-sourced funding. Key journalists and staff own 23.5% of the shares. Most of the team are experienced journalists who had left media owned by MAFRA, Babiš_s media conglomerate. In November 2019, Denik N was published in print five times a week, had more than 40,000 subscribers, and had become one of the digital-media landscape’s dominant voices.

The tendency for foreign media owners to be crowded out is likely to continue. In October 2019, Central European Media Enterprises (CME), an international media and entertainment company, confirmed that it had entered into a definitive acquisition agreement with PPF Group. The transaction was valued at approximately $2.1 billion, and included television stations in five countries of East-Central Europe (Bulgaria, Czechia, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia). PPF is owned by Czech billionaire Petr Kellner, and the acquisition includes Nova, Czechia’s most influential commercial television group. The acquisition is expected to be completed in mid-2020, but is still subject to regulatory approval.
A wide range of newspapers – national and local – are published in Ireland and this is augmented by the circulation of the main UK newspapers and weeklies. In addition to the range of public-service state-owned radio and TV stations, a variety of privately owned stations also exist. Irish listeners and viewers also avail themselves to UK English-language stations, which are widely received in the country. As a result, Irish readers, listeners and viewers are exposed to a plurality of opinions.

There is a plurality of ownership in the Irish media – the sector includes state radio and TV, private radio and TV, a variety of newspapers with varied private ownership, and many small-circulation magazines that purvey alternative political views and philosophies. However, there are recurrent suspicions about the influence and power of the Independent News and Media Group, an Irish-based multinational media company that owns the largest-circulation national titles. The control of this company has changed recently following a bitter internal feud. The group’s editors maintain that its journalists are not restricted in their professional freedom.

There are also recurrent criticisms of the views promoted by the state-owned broadcasting company, RTÉ, and of bias in its core news and editorial comment. There does not appear to be much basis for such claims.

Irish libel laws are restrictive and may impair the ability of investigative journalists to have their work published. However, the restrictions imposed by the existing laws do not imply any bias toward one end of the political spectrum or the other.

Broadcasters try to meet their statutory requirements of achieving balance in electoral coverage by adopting what Kevin Rafter describes as a “stopwatch” approach – making adjustments during the campaign to try and make sure that actual coverage closely corresponds to the pre-determined on-air allocations. This can be more difficult to judge at times when there is a large swing in the fortunes of the parties. The collapse of the Fianna Fáil vote at the 2011 election was a dramatic example of this difficulty. In 2011, RTÉ introduced a new weighting system composed of four elements (each element weighted at 25%), namely: first-preference votes at the previous general election of 2007; percentage of seats held by the party at the time of the 2011 election; an estimate of the number of candidates nominated by each party in 2011; and an average of (a) mean opinion poll results from 2007 to 2011, (b) percentage of first-preference votes in the 2009 European parliamentary elections and (c) first-preference votes in the 2009 local government elections.
Kevin Rafter (2018), ‘The Media and Politics,’ in Politics in the Republic of Ireland (6th edition, Routledge).
The constitution provides for freedom of expression without censorship, as well as the right to information. According to this, the media environment is pluralistic with a variety of public and private television and radio stations, newspapers, and internet portals. However, the market is dominated by only three media groups.

In the context of the European Union, Spain is unique in that a majority of adults (59%) consider the news media to be very important to society, even if a smaller portion (31%) say they trust the news media. Spain’s citizens have become more interested in politics in recent years. Even if the print media’s circulation is declining, the population’s growing access to the internet (with a penetration rate of approximately 85%) and the widespread use of social networks have encouraged the proliferation of electronic newspapers and independent blogs that counterbalance oligopolistic trends and guarantee that certain opinions can be expressed in public debate.

The largest newspaper is the very influential center-left El País. Other nationwide newspapers include the center-right El Mundo and the conservative ABC. In Catalonia, the moderate nationalist La Vanguardia is the market leader. There is no print newspaper that represents genuinely left-leaning ideas, but progressive digital publications such as and have a large number of readers. There are also significant center-right to right-wing digital media sites such as, and Nevertheless, the country’s most widely read information websites are the electronic versions of print newspapers.

With regard to television, 55% to 60% of the market is controlled by the Italian company Mediaset (which includes the Telecinco and Cuatro channels), the Atresmedia Corporación (which owns both the right-wing Antena 3 and the more leftist channel La Sexta), and the public broadcaster Televisión Española (with a market share of about 15%), as well as regional public-television networks and small private stations. The radio market is dominated by the center-left SER station, followed by the center-right Onda Cero, the Cadena Cope (which belongs to the Catholic Church) and the publicly owned Radio Nacional de España.
Abril–Mayo (2018), Audiencia de Internet

OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (2019), Spain Early Parliamentary Elections,

PEW Research Center(2018), News Media in Spain
The media market is characterized by pluralism in the electronic and broadcast sectors. Publicly funded television and radio networks provide high-quality programming but have modest resources for news gathering. There are strong television-news networks on both the left (MSNBC) and the right (Fox News) of the political spectrum, in addition to the centrist CNN. There has been an unprecedented consolidation of ownership of local media outlets in recent years. A mere five major media corporations control nearly 75% of primetime viewing. Nevertheless, people in most places have access to at least six different national television news networks in addition to multiple radio stations and the vast array of internet sources. Because of declining readership, there has been a steady decline of competition in the print media; few major cities today have more than one newspaper. The main challenge with respect to media pluralism is the decline in financial resources available for actual news gathering and reporting, as opposed to commentary.

The main problem in the U.S. media system is not a lack of pluralism but the fragmentation of media audiences into ideological camps. In addition, the prominence of right-wing media, such as Fox News, pose a significant problem as they have largely participated in the Trump presidency’s attack on mainstream media, the erosion of standards of civility, and have engaged in the dissemination of misleading claims and outright falsehoods. A significant share of the public is therefore effectively not exposed to the most important current information about public affairs.
In recent years, media companies have grown in size, extending their hold on the press and broadcasting (mainly radio) sector, and operating internet news portals. Dependency on financial interests has increased, evident in media content. This has inevitably led to less critical or no reporting on specific businesses and interests. Strict radio and television ownership rules, with a threshold of 25% capital share, disallow cross-media conglomerates. However, no ownership rules exist for the press and little data is publicly available, which limits scrutiny. Financial grants to assist print media companies are in place since 2017. A similar Council of Ministers decision (2017) for grants to television organizations has been kept classified.

The Cyprus problem remained the dominant subject in 2019; it also underpins polarized media positions and biases on other issues. Other themes, including the state of the economy, instances of corruption, the selling of citizenship, and a crisis with Turkey connected to explorations for hydrocarbons also made the headlines. Issues of social concern such as immigration and refugees, multiculturalism and the environment also occupied some media space in 2019. The absence of analytical reporting, combined with advocacy journalism and lenient positions toward the government and elites persisted as major challenges, constraining pluralism in society.

The government and mainstream actors continued to largely monopolize media access, limiting the spectrum of themes covered and the viewpoints expressed. A focus on partisan confrontations, polarization and blame games resulted in critical problems rarely being discussed in a meaningful manner.
1. Media Pluralism Monitor Cyprus, 2017
2. Our View: Journalists making absurd claims over glossary, Cyprus Mail, 7 August 2018,
The Italian media system is more balanced today than in the past. In television, the earlier duopoly between public television (RAI) and private television (controlled by Berlusconi’s Mediaset) is now less exclusive. Sky TV and La7, as well as other national television and digital broadcasters, offer alternative sources for news. As for print media, the presence of three or four significant groups ensures a satisfactory degree of pluralism. Overall one can say that all political opinions of some relevance in the political spectrum receive fair media coverage. Understandably, the largest parties obtain more space than the smaller ones.

It would be difficult to say that certain positions are not published or are marginalized, especially in the case of newspapers. One of the big issues in Italy is still the predominance of television; newspapers, radio programs and electronic media can’t fully counterbalance its influence. One large television company, Mediaset, continues to exercise significant influence over electoral campaigns, but with the decline of Berlusconi’s political prominence, the influence of Mediaset has become less important.
Media ownership is diverse. Print media is privately owned, while broadcast media has a mix of public and private ownership. Market pressures have created some consolidation in the market, leading to concerns about pluralism. In 2012, the Modern Times Group sought to expand its TV holdings in Latvia by buying a competitor, LNT. The merger was reviewed by the Competition Council, which allowed it under a set of conditions to protect media plurality, including a requirement to retain two separate news desks and news-programming systems until 2017. As the requirement is no longer in effect, the All Media Baltics group (current owner of LNT) has decided to liquidate LNT. This decision has raised concerns about weakening media pluralism in Latvia, as LNT had hitherto operated a well-respected news team.

Newspapers and magazines provide a diverse range of views, but ownership structures are in some cases opaque. Internet news portals (Delfi, TVNet and Public Broadcasting of Latvia platform) have replaced print newspapers as the primary source of news..

Despite the fact that the regulation of Latvia’s media is liberal and has allowed a diverse media system to develop, Latvia was evaluated as a showing medium risk of media pluralism under the Media Pluralism Monitor in 2017. This was due to issues such as media ownership transparency, media communication on the regional level and media access to people with disabilities.
1. Competition Council (2012), On the Merger of Market Participants, Available at (in Latvian):, Last assessed: 04.11.2019.

2. Rožukalne, A.(2017) Country report: Latvia, European University Institute, Centre for Media Pluralism and Media Freedom, Available at:, Last assessed: 04.11.2019.

3. LSM (2019) Latvian Independent Television ceases independent operations, available at:, Last assessed: 10.11.2019
Lithuania’s electronic and print media markets are characterized by a mix of diversified and oligopolistic ownership structures. Ownership structures are not transparent. Publicly owned electronic media (the state-funded National Radio and Television) to some extent compensate for deficiencies or biases in private sector media reporting. According to Transparency International (the Vilnius office), some media entities are more transparent than others. In 2007, the organization singled out Verslo Žinios and Valstiečių laikraštis among the print media and the Lithuanian Television from the electronic media for transparency, while print publication Respublika and Baltic Television were criticized in this regard. In 2014, the Journalists’ and Publishers’ Ethics Commission criticized print publications Respublika and Lietuvos rytas for failing to comply with professional ethics in publishing public information; however, these media companies have continued to show serious, regular violations of professional ethics, without being penalized. In some cases, business conglomerates own multiple newspapers and TV channels. Media-ownership concentration has been increasing over the last several years due to the purchase of media outlets by domestic and foreign companies. Five groups of media companies (Delfi, 15min, Lietuvos rytas, Verslo žinios and Alfa) dominate the media market. In addition, although state and municipal institutions cannot legally act as producers, the Druskininkai municipality finances a newspaper that is freely distributed to locals by working through an educational organization. In 2014, the Vilnius district court ruled that the Druskininkai municipality broke the law by publishing this newspaper. Between 2015 and 2016, other news of ruling municipal politicians limiting the independent reporting of regional media or close connections between ruling parties and regional media outlets surfaced, evidencing that on the municipal level pluralism of opinions is limited. According to Transparency International’s Vilnius office, about 25 Lithuanian politicians and civil servants have stakes in the country’s media companies. Ramūnas Karbauskis, the co-leader of the ruling Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union, sold his shares in the newspaper Ūkininko patarėjas. The population shows relatively low levels of trust in the media, with 35% of respondents indicating that they trust and 23% stating that they do not trust media organizations, according to an October 2019 survey by Vilmorus.
See the 2007 Report of Transparency International (the Vilnius office) in public/2013/01/22/skaidresnes_zinia sklaidos_link.pdf
See information by the Journalists‘ and Publishers‘ Ethics Commission
All of Luxembourg’s daily newspapers have links to political parties. The Luxemburger Wort is owned by the Catholic Church, and therefore has ties to the Christian Social People’s Party. The market share of the Luxemburger Wort fell to 28.5% in 2019.

The market share of L’Essentiel, the most successful of the free papers, was 22.5% in 2019. L’Essentiel and Tageblatt (Luxembourg’s second-largest newspaper, with a market share of about 7.8%) are both published by Editpress, which has ties to the Luxembourg Socialist Workers’ Party and the socialist trade union OGB-L.

In March 2018, an ambitious online magazine project called Reporter launched, driven by several young journalists. These developments, in addition to a restructuring of the Luxemburger Wort, are signs of change in Luxembourg’s media market.

Radio Télé Luxembourg has no competitors in the television market, and remains well ahead in radio market, despite liberalization the early 1990s that led to the creation of public broadcaster Radio 100.7. In 2018, RTL had the largest audience share (35%), much larger than second-place Elodoradio (ca. 18%).

A considerable amount of foreign media is consumed, especially on television. TF1 (France), and ARD and ZDF (Germany) reach more than 10% of the Luxembourg population.

The most important online media presence in Luxembourg is RTL’s website, which represents all political views and is impartial. Germany’s Spiegel Online is also widely read.
Etude TNS ILRES PLURIMEDIA LUXEMBOURG 2018.II. 12.9.2018. Accessed 22 Oct. 2019.

Des médias. Service information et presse du gouvernement luxembourgeois, 2013. Accessed 22 Oct 2019.

„Reporter: Über uns“. Accessed 22 Oct. 2019.

“Sind die luxemburgischen Medien politisch unabhängig?”, 22.04.2016. Accessed 4 jan. 2020.
Portugal’s media market is competitive and relatively diversified. There are four free broadcast-television networks – one public (RTP, with four channels) and two private (SIC and TVI), each of the latter owned by a different media conglomerate (Impresa and Media Capital). In the aftermath of the transition to digital television, the Portuguese Assembly’s own channel, ARTV (previously only available on cable), was also added to the roster of free channels.

The national cable television news channels, once restricted to offerings from the RTP and SIC groups, have diversified since 2009 and there are now at least four major players: RTP, SIC, TVI and CMTV.

The newspaper market has shown diversification, with several leading groups emerging. The Global Media Group holds several relevant titles, notably Jornal de Notícias (a leading daily in northern Portugal) and Diário de Notícias (another leading newspaper, which became weekly in mid-2018). The Impresa group held several print outlets, its flagship being the influential Expresso weekly. In January 2018, the Impresa group sold all its titles, except Expresso, to a new group, called Trust in News. This sale included the Visão weekly news magazine.

Meanwhile, the Sonae group is behind another influential title, the daily Público. Cofina Media owns the Correio da Manhã tabloid and the daily Jornal de Negócios financial newspaper, while Newsplex owns The Sol weekly and “i” daily. There is also an online daily newspaper, called Observador, which has a classical liberal orientation, as set out in its editorial statutes.

This diversity results in a degree of pluralism. At the same time, most media outlets – notably newspapers – face considerable financial challenges.

These financial challenges contribute to the considerable volatility in media-ownership patterns, as evidenced by the sale of the Impresa titles.
Observador, “Estatuto Editorial,” available online at:
The Dutch media landscape is very pluralistic but nonetheless subject to a gradual narrowing of media ownership, internationalization and rapid commercialization. On the other hand, availability of (foreign and national) web-based TV and radio has increased tremendously. The Dutch media landscape is still characterized by one of the world’s highest newspaper-readership rates. Innovations in newspaper media include tabloids, Sunday editions, and new-media editions (online, mobile phone, etc.). On a regional level, the one-paper-city model is now dominant; there are even several cities lacking local papers altogether.

The degree of ownership concentration in the print media is high. Three publishers control 90% of the paid newspapers circulated, and foreign ownership of print media outlets is growing. As the circulation of traditional magazines decreases, publishers are launching new titles to attract readers. There are currently at least 8,000 different magazine titles available for Dutch readers. Print outlets – both newspapers and magazines – carry a high share of advertising, but this is declining. There are several public and private television and radio stations at the national, regional and local levels. The three public channels continue to lose viewers. The Netherlands also shows one of Europe’s highest rates of cable TV penetration (about 95%). However, online access to news and entertainment has increased due to the prevalence of smartphones, widespread availability of Wi-Fi, and paid news and entertainment sources. Though the issue of ownership concentration also affects the social media and internet search engines. Internet usage rates in the Netherlands are high and many people are connected through broadband (almost 50% of Dutch households). Ten million Dutch residents use the internet on a regular basis, amounting to almost 95.5% of the population aged over six years old. For both print and digital media, users usually trust news reports and do not worry excessively about the issue of fake news, although a clear majority believe that technology and media companies ought to provide better information about and more opportunities for identifying fake news. The government also has a responsibility according to many internet users.

In the European Union’s Media Pluralism Monitor 2017, the Netherlands was characterized low risk in the domains of basic protection, political independence and social inclusiveness. However, the country was characterized medium risk in market plurality and high risk for concentration of cross-media ownership, as there are no legal restrictions at all and transparency of ownership is low. Consequently, a typical person’s media sources are likely to be controlled by the same, one owner. This requires better regulation of media mergers.
P. Bakker, 30 jaar kranten in Nederland: consolidatie en monopolievorming, in, consulted 5 November 2014

Media Pluralism Monitor 2017 – Results, Netherlands, October 2017 (, consulted 13 October 2017)

Mediamonitor 2018 -Reuters Institute Digital News Report Nederland 2018 (, accessed 25 October 2018)
The strong concentration of newspaper ownership has long been a feature of the United Kingdom’s media market and that continues to be the case. The BBC as a public-service broadcaster has a dominant position, especially with regard to broadcast and online news. There is a long tradition of powerful individual owners, such as Rupert Murdoch (News Corporation), dating back to the 19th century. This coexists with a lively regional newspaper scene. However, regional newspapers have little influence in terms of national opinion.

The electronic media and television market, in contrast, is much more balanced and also required by regulation to be politically neutral.

The support of the Murdoch media empire has been considered politically crucial over the last two decades. The firm has been very influential particularly in terms of the United Kingdom’s position toward European integration. Following the News of the World scandal and the enquiry into corporate standards at News Corporation, Murdoch’s influence may have been weakened, but that of the Daily Mail Group remains strong. In addition, the Leveson Inquiry has demanded higher diversity in ownership and tighter regulation on media mergers, both of which (if enacted) could also work toward more diversity of opinion. The press, collectively, has strongly opposed attempts to circumscribe the freedom of opinion, and the matter remains unresolved.
Relatively few actors have an ownership stake in the major private-media companies, a situation normal within an economy of this size and within an oligopolistic market. In practice, the various media outlets (television, radio, print and web) offer a diverse range of opinion, and most political positions are well represented. The boards of Belgium’s two large public-media entities for radio and television (the Flemish VRT and the francophone RTBF) are composed of representatives from most political parties, including opposition parties (from among the main parliamentary parties).

One issue affecting media outlets is the growing financial stress on print media. Tighter budgets have restricted newspapers’ ability to pursue in-depth investigations on a systematic basis, and have in general diminished some of the public scrutiny that a free press is in theory supposed to exert. Most of the major print press groups, both Flemish and Francophone, are encountering severe financial difficulties as print sales continue to decline and web-based business models appear unable to sustain a broad pool of professional journalists.
Media ownership in Canada is concentrated, with a small number of Canadian-owned and Canadian-controlled media conglomerates dominating the mainstream print and electronic media. There is also strong media concentration in some parts of the country (e.g., the Irving newspapers in New Brunswick). This trend has accelerated with the of projected shutdown of several dozen local newspapers following a deal between two national newspaper corporations, Torstar and Postmedia Group.

A case can be made that the lack of competition in the industry has led to a lack of diversity in views and positions. For example, mainstream media outlets rarely support social-democratic political parties. The mainstream print media argue that while their editorials generally express a right-wing or centrist political orientation, they make an effort to seek out contributors with left-wing perspectives and to provide balanced coverage of issues. Whether this is indeed the case is, however, doubtful. Although alternative sources of information such as online newspapers, magazines and social media (e.g., blogs) may help promote a pluralism of opinions, mainstream media likely will continue to play a crucial role in setting the national agenda. In this regard, the concentration of media ownership in Canada means that certain opinions are not represented to the degree that they are held by the general population.
Media ownership in Iceland can be divided into three blocs, two private ones and one public.

There is one state-owned TV station (RÚV – Sjónvarp) and two state-owned radio channels (RÚV – Rás1 and RÚV – Rás2). There are also four private national TV channels (Stöð2, Sjónvarp Símans, Hringbraut, and N4) and two national private radio channels, separately owned. Until March 2017, the private 365 Media Corporation (365 Miðlar) owned a TV station (Stöð 2), Bylgjan radio station, and Fréttablaðið, the larger of the country’s two daily newspapers. 365 Media Corporation was the largest media actor in Iceland, and had clear connections to a business magnate and former bank owner, who sold his media holdings to another magnate in 2019.

Morgunblaðið, the second largest newspaper, has long been considered the voice of the Independence Party and is owned primarily by several fishing vessel owners. Since 2009, its chief editor has been the former prime minister and Independence Party leader. Other newspapers include DV, Stundin and Kjarninn.

Given the somewhat broader ownership of TV and radio media combined with several smaller TV broadcasters, radio stations and newspapers, media ownership in Iceland can be considered fairly pluralistic.
Israeli policy toward media pluralism is taking a “multivalued approach,” in the sense that an open media field is viewed as part of the democratic order and is thus valued not only for economic but for normative purposes as well. This view justifies utilizing special regulatory tools (as opposed to exclusive antitrust regulation) in order to prevent the concentration of ownership and cross-ownership in the media sector. In this spirit, media regulation in Israel also oversees issues of content (specifically regarding issues of local production and censorship).

In practice, media regulation in Israel is largely structural, controlling ownership of media outlets (radio, and public and private cable and satellite television). The regulators authorize concessionaires and enforce regulation in matters of ownership concentration, cross-ownership and foreign ownership. However, print media is not under the same restraints as broadcast media, and is regulated by antitrust legislation and voluntary self-regulation. Most news websites in Israel are operated by print media companies. There are ongoing efforts to expand regulation to the digital sphere, but no change has been legislated by parliament as of yet.

In recent years, ideological and financial centralism has increased, while the government has attempted to improve regulation of and competition in the communications market. Israel’s diverse newspaper industry was joined in 2007 by Israel Hayom, a free daily newspaper owned by Sheldon Adelson, an American businessman who is openly aligned with the prime minister and the Likud party. Israel Hayom quickly gained power, capturing 40% of the market, raising concerns due to its partisan coverage and its negative effect on competing commercial newspapers.

In November 2017, after almost 25 years on the air, Channel 2’s two broadcasters (Keshet and Reshet) split and began airing on separate channels (channels 12 and 13 respectively), while Channel 10 moved to channel 14. Since the split took effect last year, all three commercial stations (Keshet, Reshet and Channel 10) sustained losses of millions and sometimes tens of millions of shekels per month, which will amount to more than ILS 200 million over the year. In 2018, the Israeli Antitrust Commissioner approved the Rehest-Channel 10 merger. The commissioner stated that the merger would not significantly undermine competition in the media market.
Agmon, Tamir and Tsadik, Ami, “Analyzing economic ramifications of centralization and cross ownerships in the Media,” Knesset Research and Information Center, 2.11.2011 (Hebrew)

Boker, Ran. “Channel Ten will be closed: The merger of Reshet and Channel Ten was approved,” 8.8.2018 (Hebrew):,7340,L-5324863,00.html

“Freedom of the Press: Israel 2017,” Freedom House, 2017

Media Ownership Map, The Seventh Eye website:

Halon, E, “Reshet pulls out of a slated merger with Channel Ten,” 15.10.2018, Jerusalem Post:

Tal, Yizhar and Ivry-Omer, Dina, “Regulation of electronic communications services in Israel: The need to establish a communications Authority,” Policy research 76 IDI, November 2009: (Hebrew)

Tucker, Nati, “Why did Shlom Ben Tzvi disappear?,” theMarker 3.10.2014: (Hebrew).

Zrahiya, Zvi, “Israel’s media is riddled with alien interests,” 15.11.2011: nterests1.395639?localLinksEnabled =false
Japan has an oligopolistic media structure, with five conglomerates controlling the leading national newspapers and the major TV networks. These include Asahi, Fuji Sankei, Mainichi, Yomiuri and the Nihon Keizai Group. Another major force is NHK, the public broadcasting service, which rarely criticizes the status quo. The main media groups also tend to avoid anything beyond a mildly critical coverage of issues, although a variety of stances from left-center (Asahi) to conservative-nationalistic (Sankei) can be observed.

Generally speaking, the small group of conglomerates and major organizations dominating the media does not capture the pluralism of opinions in Japan. Regional newspapers and TV stations are not serious competitors. However, competition has emerged from international media, and particularly from interactive digital-media sources such as blogs, bulletin boards, e-magazines and social networks. Their use is spreading rapidly, while the circulation of traditional newspapers is in decline, and the traditional media have begun using digital channels more actively as well. Currently, the biggest online news source is Yahoo! Japan, which is increasing the amount of original content it produces.

The loss of public trust in the government and in major media organizations may have intensified the move toward greater use of independent media channels, also opening some new potential for independent investigative journalism. However, such channels tend to cater to their specific audiences. So while there is more pluralism, there is also a tendency toward increasingly one-sided interpretations of events. Among Japanese youths, right-wing internet channels have gained a significant following.
Alessia Cerantola, Investigative Journalism in Japan: Tough Times But Signs of Hope, Global Investigative Journalism Network, 6 July 2017,

Yasuomi Sawa, Japan Digital News Report 2018, Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism,

Yasuomi Sawa, Digital News Report 2019 Japan, Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism,
Maltese media outlets, including visual media, electronic media and print publications, are primarily owned by a mix of actors: political parties, the Catholic Church, private entrepreneurs and the General Workers’ Union (GWU), a major left-leaning trade union. Thus, Malta’s media landscape reflects a plurality of ownership. Pluralism of opinion within the media depends entirely on the willingness of owners to allow the publication or dissemination of opposing viewpoints or dissent from current orthodoxy. The state media has expanded the range of viewpoints presented, and has had few legal cases brought against it in recent years, a significant change. The state fulfills its obligations better now than in the past. However, competition for market share has forced privately owned and politically owned media alike to publish dissenting opinions more often. The 2017 report on media pluralism in Malta by the Center for Media Pluralism and Media Freedom (CMPF) at the European University Institute, assigned the country a medium score in terms of basic protection of journalists against violence. This score was primarily associated with the murder of a journalist (Daphne Caruana Galizia) in 2017. The report stated that, “The highest-scoring risk indicators are: political independence of media, in particular of public-service media; commercial and owner influence over editorial content; cross-media concentration of ownership; access to media for minorities and for people with disabilities; and media literacy. Editorial autonomy seems not to be well protected, either from political or commercial influences. However, media ownership is quite transparent.” Malta scored well in terms protecting the freedom of expression; yet here too the country’s ranking fell, again primarily due to Caruana Galizia’s murder and the mistaken claim that no action was being taken to solve the murder. The report pointed out that Malta is the only EU country where the two major political parties own television and radio stations as well as newspapers. According to the Media Pluralism Monitor 2016, media ownership is transparent but data on revenues are not available. Most of the risk-increasing factors relate to the lack of data on the media market, lack of protection for and self-regulation by journalists, and the lack of a media-literacy policy. In a 2016 European Commission report on media pluralism, 76% of respondents stated that the media provide a diversity of views and opinions, 48% thought the media was more free and independent than five years ago; Malta showed the most improved score over the past five years in both cases. Notwithstanding, only 28% thought that the media provided information free from political or commercial pressure.
Citations: s/view/20130428/opinion/Making-PBS- a-fit-national-entity.467423
http: // w/20130423/local/new-pbs-chairman-t hanks-the-pm.466622
http://www.tim 5/local/Time-for-changing-of-the-gu ard-at-PBS.467040
Media Pluralism in Malta, A Test Implementation of the Media Pluralism Monitor 2015
Media Pluralism in Malta, A Test Implementation of the Media Pluralism Monitor 2016
Media Pluralism in Malta, A Test Implementation of the Media Pluralism Monitor 2017
Malta today 31/12/2019 One TV Chairman Jason Micallef opposes scrapping political party media
The Mexican media is much more diversified and politically pluralist than it was a generation ago, but ownership is still highly concentrated. Despite Peña Nieto’s telecommunication reform, broadcasting continues to be characterized by oligopolistic ownership. Two corporations, Televisa and TV Azteca, dominate more than 90% of the TV market. Regulators, like the Federal Telecommunications Institute (IFT), are essentially toothless.

Mexicans take full advantage of internet-based media, which have grown in both size and significance and offer a wide spectrum of information. In the 2018 elections, the left-wing candidate, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, used social media as an alternative to mainstream media. The development of online media has done much to enhance pluralism through bypassing traditional, highly oligopolized media structures. On the other hand, however, internet-based media have also created new challenges. There are challenges regarding the journalistic quality of small and highly diverse media outlets. Furthermore, broadband and cellphone coverage is highly unequal, with rural and marginalized citizens unable to take advantage of these new sources of information. President Andrés Manuel López Obrador announced government plans on 11 May 2019 to create a public internet company, which will allow even those in the most remote areas of the country to access the internet, but it is unlikely to be carried out in the near future.
As other East-Central European countries, Slovakia has experienced a passing of private media ownership from foreign owners to intransparent domestic owners. A large number of media outlets are now directly or indirectly controlled by a limited number of politically well-connected Slovak financial groups (such as Penta, Grafobal Group, and J&T). In autumn 2014, the Penta financial group entered the media market, buying 45% of Petit Press from the German Rheinisch Bergische Verlagsgesellschaft (RBVG), which publishes the Sme daily, Slovakia’s most influential political daily – a transaction finally approved by the Anti-Monopoly Office in June 2016. Penta, whose true owners are still unknown, has also acquired two other publishing houses, and controls the economic weekly Trend, the daily Plus Jeden Deň and the weekly Plus 7 Dní (the latter two of which are tabloids). In addition, it operates websites and purchases advertising space via its media agency. In 2018, however, Penta’s plans to purchase the media group Central European Media Enterprises (CME), which owns several TV stations in six central and eastern European countries, including the most watched private broadcaster in Slovakia, Markíza, failed. Instead, CME has been acquired by Czech businessman Petr Kellner in 2019. As a result, the television landscape is now controlled solely by Slovak and Czech owners. As it stands, only two of the original foreign media owners remain and both have substantially reduced their portfolio. After selling its print division, Ringier Axel Springer only owns, the website for which the murdered journalist Kuciak worked. The Bauer Media Group still owns radio stations, but sold its magazine publications to the publishing house Mafra, which is owned by the Czech prime minister.
Vašuta, T. (2019): Markíza is the last drop. Financiers have divided the media market among themselves, in: Slovak Spectator, October 30 (
South Korea
South Korea has a vibrant and diverse media sector that includes various cable, terrestrial and satellite television stations, and more than 100 daily newspapers in either Korean or English. As the country has the world’s highest internet penetration rates, a great number of readers today gain news exclusively from online sources. Yet despite the great variety of offerings, the diversity of content remains limited. The print media is dominated by three major newspapers: Chosun Ilbo, Dong-a Ilbo and Joong Ang Ilbo. Although the combined market share of these three outlets is declining, it remained at about 65% in 2014, according to the Korea Press Foundation. Smaller alternative newspapers also exist. The major newspapers are politically conservative and business-friendly, partly because they depend to a very large degree on advertising revenues. While there is more pluralism in the broadcasting sector due to the mix of public and private media, the diversity of political opinions in this arena is threatened by government influence over broadcasters’ personnel policies. In general, media pluralism is hampered by a widespread belief that criticism and critical questions are necessarily negative. In May 2019, KBS journalist Song Hyun-jung was threatened by supporters of President Moon who claimed that he had been rude while interviewing the president. They claimed that Song’s questions were “inappropriate,” and a petition was started to demand an apology from or even punishment of Song and KBS. Beyond the traditional media, internet-based news are widespread and very diverse, although some opinions such as pro-North Korean statements remain outlawed by the National Security Law.
Youn S., Lee H. (2015) The Ongoing Media Pluralism Debate in South Korea. In: Valcke P., Sükösd M., Picard R.G. (eds) Media Pluralism and Diversity. Palgrave
Media Us. “Eight years after Media Law,” July 21, 2017. (In Korean)
Freedom of the Press 2016,
Kang, Tae-jun. 2019. “South Korean Journalist Under Fire for Being ‘Rude’ to President Moon.” The Diplomat, May 11. Retrieved from
Oligopolistic ownership structures characterize either the electronic or the print media market. Important opinions are represented but there are no or only weak institutional guarantees against the predominance of certain opinions.
The Austrian media system features a distinct lack of pluralism in both the broadcast- and print-media sectors. The TV and radio markets are still dominated by the public Austrian Broadcasting Corporation (ORF). By law, the ORF is required to follow a policy of internal pluralism, which in practice translates primarily into a reflection of the various political parties’ current strength in parliament. Thus, interests and movements not yet established in the political system may occasionally suffer a disadvantage.

The print-media sector is highly concentrated, with a single daily paper (Die Krone) accounting for a 40% market share on a circulation basis. This paper carries political weight insofar as politicians of various parties seek to please its editor and staff, a situation that erodes the fair and open democratic competition of ideas and interests. Print-media organization are no longer owned by parties or organized interest groups, and the concentration can be seen as a consequence of market forces and the small size of the Austrian market.

Regional monopolies also pose a threat to media pluralism. In some federal states, a single daily paper dominates the market. Once again, the small size of the Austrian media market is largely responsible.

On the other side, the increasing importance of new social media have created a different problem: How to guarantee the minimal degree of media fairness in the new media?

Under the ÖVP-FPÖ coalition, a crucial policy question concerned how the governing majority would reform the ORF, the most important media outlet in the country. Though, when the coalition collapsed in summer 2019, no decisive step had been taken.
In general terms, the high concentration of media ownership in Chile notoriously limits democratic pluralistic debate. This is especially the case among print media, which is practically a duopoly. The El Mercurio group and Copesa together account for much of the country’s print sector, have the greatest share of readers and control of a considerable amount of the country’s advertising portfolio. The papers owned by these two dominant groups offer essentially uniform political-ideological projects, editorial positions, styles and news coverage. However, these newspapers tend to be more influential among Chile’s upper-middle class and political elites than among the broader public. A similar pattern is evident in the public-television sector, but on the whole, the electronic sector offers a more diversified scope of opinion (especially on local radio stations and in a few online publications). In general, there is a very narrow informational mainstream, with the government-owned TVN being the most dominant free station. Whether it presents politically balanced views and provides access to all viewpoints is a point of debate. At the end of 2017, TVN was declared bankrupt. A bailout package to ensure the channels survival was approved by the Senate in January 2018. The government also decided to create a cultural channel as part of the TVN capitalization project.
Media pluralism is reasonably guaranteed in France. Yet nearly all newspapers, daily or weekly, local or national, are under the control of rich business people, companies or banks. Among the few exceptions are a regional newspaper in the western part of France and the daily newspaper La Croix. Whereas on the national level there is a wide range of newspapers expressing political pluralism, the local and regional situation is normally characterized by a monopoly or quasi-monopoly position of one paper in a given geographical area. The print circulation of the country’s daily newspapers is low by Western standards, and has been negatively affected by free newspapers distributed in the streets, as well as by online publications. Indeed, the print market is largely in decline, and is suffering financially. The situation is further aggravated by an obsolete, inefficient, corporatist and costly system of distribution that is controlled by the unions. Many newspapers are being put in jeopardy due to the costs and general dysfunctionality of the distribution system. Faced with online competition, rising costs and a shrinking readership, print media have had to rely more and more on the benevolence of wealthy entrepreneurs or on the state. Given the multiple ties between political and business elites in France, this is not a particularly favorable situation for the maintenance of a vibrant culture of print media pluralism. This being said, the proliferation of online news media and online offerings provided either print media or “pure players” (like Mediapart, Rue89, Slate and Atlantico) should be taken into account. They contribute to media pluralism, whereas social-media networks – which are gaining more and more influence – tend to focus on scandals, and disseminate partial information or fake news. While social-media networks may play an important role in facilitating whistle blowers, they are unable to offer in-depth analysis and well-grounded information.
There are a large number of electronic and print media organizations, but the structure of ownership has become increasingly oligopolistic with strong cross-ownership across media formats. In a country of 11 million inhabitants, there are more than 120 analog private TV stations with a national, regional or local license. There are also approximately 950 regional/local radio stations.

The Greek media landscape is shaped by media groups controlled by magnates, ship owners and large contractors. However, the exact ownership structure of media outlets is concealed by holding companies and little-known entities listed in official records; no exact ownership information is available. Extensive cross-media ownership is common and this has negatively affected media independence. Wealthy businessmen with interests in shipping, telecommunications and other industries dominate the largest private television, radio and social media channels.

The most dominant television channels (Antenna, Star and Skai) attract the majority of viewers, as they offer popular shows and infotainment. In the period under review, the owners of Star channel acquired the financially ailing Alpha TV, increasing their influence in the media sector. Owners of television channels also hold majority shares in national daily newspapers.

Between June and September 2016, the Syriza-ANEL government attempted to control the private media landscape by passing a law that would allow only four nationwide television channels to operate across the country. The law was eventually annulled in October 2016 by Greece’s Supreme Administrative Court (StE). Finally, in late 2018, an auction of nationwide TV licenses was conducted, and five such private licenses were sold.

Electronic media is also flourishing in the form of websites and blogs. There are an unknown number of anti-establishment electronic media. Some of them have become critical of Syriza and ANEL after the coalition government failed to follow up on their pre-electoral promises.

The print media landscape is also pluralistic. There are 59 national newspapers and around 500 regional/local ones. However, between 1990 and 2008, circulation dropped by 50%. There are at least three pro-government Athens-based daily newspapers, while a similar number are critical of the government. In the beginning of 2017, the Syriza-ANEL government tried to gain indirect control of a major but heavily indebted press group, the Lambrakis group (DOL), through the attempt of a pro-government Greek-Russian tycoon to buy DOL. Eventually, the highest bidder was another tycoon who is not linked to the government but who already controls Greece’s richest soccer team (Olympiacos) and has business interests in shipping and other sectors. In other words, even though the left/nationalist-right coalition government’s attempt to constrain private media has failed, the overall oligopolistic nature of the media sector has probably changed for the worse.

Further tendencies toward the consolidation of an oligopolistic media structure were evident in the period under review, as new media moguls opened new TV stations (One TV, Open TV), supporting football teams in which the stations’ owners were major shareholders and seeking to influence the country’s political landscape.

While Greece lacks an effective anti-monopoly policy for the media business, the media actually do indeed report a wide range of opinions. The government voices its opinions through the state-owned television broadcaster (ERT) and friendly newspapers and radio stations. The opposition has a voice in the media, as political party leaders participate daily in state and private television and radio programs. Small circulation newspapers attract readers by printing unsubstantiated accusations regarding politicians and businessmen. Regardless of their political profile, some marginal newspapers do not refrain from publishing news which, at times, border on smear campaigns against political opponents.
Information and analysis on media cross-ownership and newspaper circulation in 1990-2008 is drawn on Nikos Leandros, “Media Concentration and Systemic Failures in Greece,” International Journal of Communication, vol 4, 2010, pp. 886-905.

Index on Censorship Report on Greece 2017
Poland’s media market is one of the largest in Europe, offering a diverse mix of public and private media organizations and reflecting a broad spectrum of political opinions. While the public TV station TVP and its four channels claim a large share of the market, and local authorities often publish newspapers and magazines, most Polish print media and radio in general are privately owned. The main private TV channel TVN belongs to the U.S.-based Discovery Inc. Despite a tendency toward concentration, media ownership remains diversified. Foreign owners still control more than half of the Polish media market. Compared to other countries in East-Central Europe, Poland’s media-ownership structures are relatively transparent, and there are no “media moguls” in the market who use their ownership positions to further a political agenda. Since 2015, however, media pluralism has substantially declined. For one thing, the public media have become highly partisan. For another, the PiS government has sought to limit the market shares of independent media. It has forced state-owned enterprises to refrain from placing advertisements in newspapers considered leftist or liberal. Likewise, public gas stations and other enterprises have been urged not to sell particular newspapers.
Slovenia currently has about 1,400 different media outlets, including more than 80 radio and 50 television broadcasters (both local and cable operators). However, the public-media market share is still substantial, with Radio-Television of Slovenia (Radiotelevizija Slovenija, RTVS) running seven out of 10 national TV and radio channels (for TV: SLO1, SLO2, SLO3; for radio: Program A, Program Ars, Val 202 and Radio Slovenia International).

Recent ownership changes have raised concerns about media pluralism. In the print media, the controversial sale in July 2014 of Večer, a prominent daily newspaper (primarily serving the northeastern part of the country), was followed by the auctioning of Slovenia’s biggest newspaper publisher Delo in June 2015. The new owner, the financial management company FMR, has little to no media experience and is run by Stojan Petrič, a construction businessman who is believed to be politically well connected. As a result of these changes, sales of Delo newspaper dropped to the lowest level so far in 2019 (close to 20,000 issues sold daily). In response, FMR made the seasoned journalist and former editor-in-chief of news portal Uroš Urbas editor-in-chief of Delo, replacing Gregor Knafelc who had little journalistic experience. In August 2018, the publishers of Dnevnik and Večer, the second and the third largest daily newspapers in Slovenia, announced a merger, which was approved by the Ministry of Culture and the Competition Protection Agency in late July 2019. The merger of Dnevnik and Večer will form the largest printed daily newspaper in Slovenia, with almost 40,000 issues sold daily.

In the electronic media, the U.S. media conglomerate, United Media received the green light from the Ministry of Culture in October 2017 and from Competition Protection Agency in early 2018 to take over Pro Plus, the operator of the largest commercial TV channels in Slovenia, POP TV and Kanal A. But in January 2019, Central European Media Enterprises, the owner of Pro Plus, withdrew from the sale and remained the owner of the country’s largest private TV network.

Media pluralism has further suffered from the growing involvement of political parties in the media business. In February 2016, the Slovenian Democratic Party (SDS), the main opposition party, which has long complained about an alleged media bias, launched its own private news TV station, Nova24TV. Nova24TV got new owners in early 2017 with three Hungarian companies taking over, reported to be connected to the Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orbán. In September 2017, the SDS also began publishing the new weekly Scandal24. The governing coalition reacted by establishing a parliamentary investigation commission in charge of determining whether the Hungarian investment in the SDS media represents illegal party financing.
Australia has a very high degree of concentration of media ownership, with the ownership of national and state newspapers being divided mainly between two companies: Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation and the John Fairfax Group. The concentration of newspaper ownership has resulted in a low level of diversity in reporting and editorial positions. There is slightly more diversity in broadcast media, with the government funding two bodies, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation and the Special Broadcasting Service, to provide a balance to the main commercial outlets. There are also three main commercial companies, none of which is politically aligned.

The potential for greater concentration of media ownership increased following the passing in 2017 of amendments to the Broadcasting Services Act 1992. The amendments repeal two regulations that prevented any single person from controlling commercial television licenses that broadcast to more than 75% of the federal population or controlling more than two regulated forms of media (i.e., commercial radio, commercial TV or associated newspapers) in one commercial radio license area. Following the passage of this legislation, in mid-2018 a merger was announced between Channel 9, one of the three commercial free-to-air television networks, and Fairfax Media, the second-largest newspaper proprietor and owner of various radio stations.
How the Fairfax takeover will further concentrate Australia’s media. The Guardian. 2 August 2018. Available at
Media pluralism in Bulgaria is supported by a quite diversified ownership structure. The sheer plurality of media outlets ensures relatively broad coverage of different points of view. At the same time, however, the ownership structure is often opaque, allowing for hidden interests to operate. That said, at least one well-known de facto owner of print media (Delyan Peevski) has made his ownership official. Pluralism of opinions is greater in the radio and print media than in the TV sector. The fact that Sega, one of the few newspapers that leans against the government, is shifting from daily to weekly publication in 2020 signals a narrowing of the field.

The rising importance of online media, including blogging and various independent sites, has been a significant recent development. These online resources have played a prominent role in the referendum and election campaigns since 2015. In the 2019 EU Parliament elections, a significant portion of the unexpectedly large vote for individual independent candidates can be attributed to their active use of such outreach platforms. In the municipal elections, at least one well-known blogger won a mayoral position in one of Sofia’s 24 districts.
Media pluralism in Croatia is limited. The TV market is dominated by the public TV station Croatian Radiotelevision (Hrvatska radiotelevizija, HRT) and two private broadcasters, Nova TV and RTL. After some haggling, Nova TV was taken over by Slovenia Broadband, a subsidiary of United Media, in July 2018. While United Media had been forced by Croatia’s Electronic Media Council (AZTN) to sell its shares in Total TV, it also owns the N1 (cable) television and multimedia platform that has a growing audience in Croatia. The market for print media has likewise been dominated by a handful of companies.
New Zealand
New Zealand’s media market is only partly competitive. In the TV segment, competition is mainly between Television New Zealand (TVNZ) – which, despite being publicly owned, is run on a commercial basis – and two international media giants: U.S.-owned MediaWorks and Australian-owned Sky. Media pluralism is further threatened by MediaWorks announcing (in October 2019) that its Three network, with a significant news and current affairs element under the banner of Newshub, is for sale. In the meantime, the commercial radio market is largely divided up between MediaWorks and New Zealand Media and Entertainment (NZME), with publicly owned Radio New Zealand acting as a third player. Finally, a near-duopoly also exists in the newspaper and magazine publishing industry, where the market is essentially split between NZME and Australian-owned Stuff (renamed from Fairfax in 2018). While NZME owns the leading daily newspaper, the New Zealand Herald, Stuff controls the country’s second- and third-highest circulation daily newspapers, The Dominion Post and The Press. Media concentration in New Zealand would have been even worse, if the Commerce Commission had not blocked a proposed merger between NZME and Stuff – a move that was confirmed by the Court of Appeal in October 2018. The merged entity of NZME and Fairfax Media would have had a readership of 3.7 million New Zealanders and controlled more than 90% of the print media market.

There are several online media outlets that provide alternative source of news and information (The Spinoff and Newsroom) however, these outlets register much lower site visit numbers than the major news outlets.
Newsroom, NZME and Stuff pull plug on merger (
RNZ, MediaWorks to sell TV Three: “Everyone is in a state of shock” (
Concentration of media ownership remains a key challenge in the Romanian media environment. Owners maintain close relationships with politicians and routinely use their media outlets to circulate systemic disinformation. Several owners have been convicted of corruption offenses and, as of October 2019, at least ten were under investigation by the National Anti-corruption Directorate for corruption-related offenses.

As journalists continue to face harassment and violence as their work is politicized, many have begun launching their own investigative media outlets. These investigative media outlets are increasingly a main source of news in the country that circumvents National Audiovisual Council regulations and administrative parameters.

State-owned media also came under threat this year following the elimination of taxes and the TV license fee, a main source of income for Romania’s public radio and TV broadcasters. While often subject to political interference, state-owned media may provide a balance to the agendas of privately owned media outlets. Within this context, a positive development in January 2019 was the reopening of the Radio Free Europe Romania news service, one of the few news services that provided information during the communist era. The move was praised by President Iohannis as being a positive step in ensuring independent media in the country.
Since the second Orbán government assumed office in 2010, media pluralism in Hungary has suffered both from increasing government control over the public media and a process of concentration of private-media ownership in the hands of companies close to Fidesz. The Orbán regime has relaunched the daily Magyar Nemzet and the news channel Hír TV, the most popular rightwing-conservative TV station. There are still some independent media, but they work under very difficult financial and political circumstances and reach only 10% of the overall population. Klubrádió, the one and only independent radio station, is on air only in Budapest. Népszava, the only national-wide independent daily, has a small circulation. It has been kept alive by government ads in order to serve as a fig leaf. The remaining independent weeklies (hvg, Magyar Narancs and 168 óra) address predominantly highly educated urban readers. The internet as a source of information away from state-influenced media has become more and more important. But even free information via the internet is increasingly under threat as bots seek to influence the discourse with fake news and defamation campaigns on behalf of the government. The victory of the opposition in the 2019 municipal elections might change the situation. The newly elected representatives have declared that they will launch their own media outlets, open to all views and interests.
Bátorfy, A. (2018): Data Visualization: This is How the Pro-Government Media Empire Owning 476 Outlets was Formed, in: Átlátszó, November 30 (
Bátorfy, A., A. Urbán (2020): State advertising as an instrument of transformation of the media market in Hungary, in: East European Politics 36(1): 44-65.
Oligopolistic ownership structures characterize both the electronic and the print media market. Few companies dominate the media, most programs are biased, and there is evidence that certain opinions are not published or are marginalized.
Turkey has some level of preparation in the area of information society and media. The lack of transparency in media funding, the growing influence of political interests on editorial policies, the concentration of media ownership, the shrinking space for pluralism, the increasing restrictions on freedom of expression and the lack of independence of regulatory authorities remain key concerns.

Turkey Report, a media monitor, finds that there are high risks for three indicators of media pluralism (regulation, political independence and social inclusiveness) and a medium risk to market plurality. On the other hand, a free and independent media is one of the components of non-governmental checks on governmental power.

While small-scale digital-born brands continue to provide alternative perspectives, they have not managed to achieve significant reach. Many showcase stories from international brands (e.g., BBC Turkish, DW and Euronews) as they have limited staff to generate original content. Other perspectives are provided by foreign media outlets, such as Russian-backed Sputnik and a new Turkish version of the (UK-based) Independent, financed and run by the Saudi Research and Marketing Group, which has close links to the Saudi royal family.

Critics of the government – including media companies, businesspeople and political opponents – argued that this has had a negative effect on the overall business environment. This has sparked concern for media pluralism in Turkey. Most critical private media groups have been turned through opaque or coerced changes in ownership into pro-government trustees by means of the ruling party’s direct and indirect pressure. The sale of the Doğan media outlet to Demirören media group, which has shown a pro-governmental business profile, reshuffled the outlet’s structure. Moreover, Habertürk and Vatan, due to reduced sales and rising costs, stopped the print edition and started only publishing content online in mid-2018 in order to avoid closing down or being sold to pro-government outlets.

Bianet Report found that media ownership lacks transparency and no information is available about the concentration of media ownership. The economic interests of media owners constitute a key problem for media freedoms. Although Article 29 of Law 3984 restricts media owners’ shareholder rights, owners with stakes in other business sectors have still used media coverage to promote their outside business interests. The number of outlets belonging to the so-called Pool Media (Havuz Medyası) – media owned by government-allied businesses, which the government can use – has expanded. Adopted in 2011, Law 6112 increased the maximum allowable foreign-ownership stake in media companies from 25% to 50%, with the condition that a single foreign investor cannot invest in more than two enterprises. Foreign companies still cannot be majority stakeholders in domestic media companies.
BİANET Media Monitoring reports 2019 (first three-quarters), (accessed 1 November 2019)

European Commission, Turkey 2019 Report, Brussels, 29.5.2019, report.pdf (accessed 1 November 2019)

Media Pluralism Monitor Results 2016, Turkey, (accessed 1 November 2017)

N. Newman and et al., Reuters Institute Digital News Reports 2019, FINAL_0.pdf (accessed 1 November 2019)

Y. İnceoğlu et al., Monitoring Media Pluralism in Europe: Application of the Media Pluralism Monitor 2017 in the European Union, FYROM, Serbia & Turkey, Country Report: Turkey, (accessed 1 November 2019)

“Türkiye’de medyayı kim kontrol ediyor?” (accessed 1 November 2019)
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