Portugal | Freedom House

Freedom of the Press



Freedom of the Press 2008

2008 Scores

Press Status


Press Freedom Score
(0 = best, 100 = worst)


Political Environment
(0 = best, 40 = worst)


Economic Environment
(0 = best, 30 = worst)


Portuguese media remained free in 2007 despite the parliament’s decision in September to pass the Journalists Statute, a law that potentially strips journalists of their right to protect confidential sources. Freedom of the press is guaranteed by the constitution, and laws against insulting the government or the armed forces are rarely enforced. Changes to the country’s Journalists Statute, which were originally proposed in 2006, make it easier for courts to order journalists to disclose confidential sources if the courts decide that it would be “difficult to obtain [the] information in any other way.” The parliament made minor changes to the law after the Portuguese president vetoed the bill in August and acknowledged that it contradicted some aspects of the code of criminal procedures that respects professional secrecy, an issue he acknowledged is “particularly delicate to journalists’ activity.” The parliament passed the law by making cosmetic changes to it to conform to the president’s concerns but essentially leaving the capacity for officials to gain access to confidential sources from journalists.

The new Journalists Statute also gives journalists’ employers and clients the right to reuse work in any way for 30 days following its first publication. Journalists have the right to reject any modifications to their work if such changes might affect their reputation; they can also remove their names from badly edited pieces. However, the European Federation of Journalists has argued that such protections are “impracticable,” especially because such “modifications are made without the journalist’s knowledge” and will be discovered only after their publication.

Six main national newspapers, four daily and two weekly, make up the bulk of the print media in Portugal. There are some 300 local and regional private radio stations. The Catholic station Radio Renascenca commands a wide listening audience. Commercial television has been making gains in recent years, providing serious competition for the underfunded public broadcasting channels. The internet is unrestricted and is used by more than 70 percent of the population.