Freedom of the press is robust in Portugal. Journalists can report without restrictions, although some face threats from extremist groups.
Although the Portuguese market, encompassing ten million inhabitants, is dominated by five major media groups (Impresa, Cofina, Media Capital, Global Media and RTP), both public and private, there are 300 registered journalistic companies and more than 1,700 publications, including 4 national dailies. Two new weeklies were launched in 2021. CNN Portugal was created in a market composed of three other national news channels.
In general, the government and political parties respect the work of the media. The only recent exception occurred in the January 2021 presidential elections: while covering the campaign of the far-right party Chega, journalists were threatened and insulted by its supporters and even by the campaign director.
There have been no recent changes in Portugal’s legislation, which continues to benefit journalists who can rely on solid legislative and constitutional standards that guarantee freedom of the press. Nevertheless, the media is not immune to judicial pressure that hinders freedom of information. Since 2020, the whistleblower Rui Pinto has been on trial for being a primary source for the Football Leaks and Luanda Leaks journalistic investigations. In 2021, it was revealed that a prosecutor ordered the surveillance of several journalists in 2018 as part of an investigation into the breach of judicial secrecy.
Despite an overall improvement in the media’s financial results in 2021, the long-lasting Covid-19 restrictions had a negative impact on the media sector. Newspapers suffered a significant erosion in sales of print editions, albeit offset by an increase in digital subscriptions. As a result, journalists’ salaries have been devalued.
As in other countries, reporters covering anti-vaccine protests amid the Covid-19 pandemic have occasionally been attacked.
Journalists can be verbally and physically abused in the course of their work.
In April, 2021, a cameraman from TVI television network was insulted and physically assaulted by a football manager after the end of a match. In early 2022, Impresa, which owns the largest newspaper and the most watched television channel in the country, suffered a major cyberattack and was left without its entire digital archives.