From the latest news and talk shows to factual or drama series, here is everything you need to know about TV and radio in Portugal.
Turning on the TV or radio might be the least of your priorities when moving to Portugal. Naturally, things like applying for a visa and Numero de Indentificacao Fiscal (NIF), finding a job and a home, getting health insurance, and settling your children in school would take precedence.
However, local television and radio can help you immerse yourself more quicker into Portuguese culture. You can also brush up on your language skills. Watching content from your country of origin via cable or satellite TV may also help you to feel a little less homesick. So, it is a good idea to set up your devices as soon as possible.
To tune in to the best radio station or find your favorite TV program in Portugal to watch, explore the following topics:
- Watching TV in Portugal
- Satellite and cable TV in Portugal
- Streaming services in Portugal
- Listening to the radio in Portugal
- Useful resources
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Watching TV in Portugal
Portugal switched from analog to digital (Televisão Digital Terrestre – DVB-T) in 2012. All televisions now sold in the country are digital with at least an HD resolution, which means a better broadcast quality.
Currently, the options available for watching TV in Portugal are via:
However, if you still own an analog television, you must buy a set-top box (STB) to convert the signal.
Of course, before you can access any of these services, you would need to set up your TV and internet connection at home.
Getting a TV license in Portugal
Although there are nine free-to-air channels, public broadcasting is not free; advertising and taxes fund the service. An audiovisual contribution tax (Contribuição Audiovisual, CAV) is added to your household electric bill. The obligatory monthly fee is €2.85 plus 6% of the Value Added Tax (VAT) or Imposto sobre Valor Acrescentado (IVA), adding up to €3.02. Some consumers may be exempt or pay a reduced fee if they are eligible for specific social benefits, such as:
- Solitary supplement for the elderly (Complemento solidário para idosos)
- Exemption social income (Rendimento social de isenção)
- Social unemployment benefit (Subsídio social de desemprego)
- First tier of family allowance (1º Escalão do abono de família)
- Social disability pension (Pensão social de invalidez)
You will need a subscription for all other options, like satellite and cable TV. The cost varies depending on the package you buy.
Terrestrial TV in Portugal
You can watch nine free-to-air channels on terrestrial TV in Portugal. Five are national public broadcasters, two are regional, and two are private television stations.
RTP (Radio Televisão de Portugal) is a state-owned network that includes RTP’s national and regional channels. SIC and TVI are private stations, while The Assembly of the Republic (or the Portuguese Parliament) owns ARTV.
National TV channels
An independent administrative entity called Entidade Reguladora para Comunicação Social (ERC) regulates Portuguese television. Historically, the state subsidized national TV channels through public funds and advertising. After the 2014 economic crisis, the government introduced the CAV tax to supplement funds from advertising.
From news and talk shows to soap operas, sports, and documentaries, you can find a wide range of programs on national TV channels in Portugal.
List of national TV channels
Here is a list of the national channels available:
- RTP1 – the first and most watched television channel in Portugal, includes news, entertainment, sports, and national and international dramas
- RTP2 – the second channel to be launched and focuses on culture, documentaries, arts, international series, and other sports besides football. Also includes programming on and for minorities, children, and science.
- RTP3 – a 24-hour news broadcaster and the first thematic channel of RTP
- RTP Memória – second thematic channel broadcasts RTP’s archives across six decades. It includes classic movies, shows, sitcoms, talk shows, and more, which can be Portuguese or international productions or its own current affairs productions.
- ARTV – a legislature television station (also known as Canal Parlamento), broadcasts parliamentary events or news from the Assembly of the Republic (10 hours/day, Monday to Friday).
- SIC – the first private tv channel in Portugal (most popular) with talk shows, game shows, Brazilian soap operas, and international series
- TVI – the second private television channel in Portugal in direct competition with SIC and RTP1 with its popular reality shows and Portuguese soap operas.
Regional TV channels
RTP controls both regional channels. They are available only in two regions through terrestrial TV.
- RTP Açores – a regional television channel that only broadcasts in the Azores, includes arts, sports, music, news, and more
- RTP Madeira – a regional television channel in Madeira, offering arts, sports, music, and news. programming
International and English-language TV channels
Interestingly, public-broadcast TV in Portugal neither offers international nor English-language channels. However, you can find these options via cable or satellite TV subscriptions.
Satellite and cable TV in Portugal
If you’re looking for alternatives to public broadcasting, fiber optic, satellite, and cable TV are the most popular options in Portugal. Currently, there are 4.3 million pay-TV subscribers (in Portuguese), translating into 94% of the population. Among these subscriptions, 58% chose fiber optic, 29.1% cable, and 8.9% satellite TV.
TV providers and subscriptions
TV providers usually offer packages that include internet, mobile, and landline connections. In Portugal, 89.6% of households prefer this over a single service. Of course, the price will depend on the service and provider you choose.
The packages can include the following:
- Quadruple or quintuple play (4/5P) – most popular choice (52.1%) includes TV, internet, landline, and mobile phone
- Triple play (3P) – around 38.5% of subscribers choose this, as it offers TV, internet, and landline
- Double play (2P) – offers a choice between TV and internet, TV and landline, or internet and landline. Least popular choice (9.4%)
Sometimes, your subscription includes at least one of the many media streaming services in Portugal.
Comparing TV providers
Here are some options of providers, along with the service’s latest price according to their website. For example, you can choose between the following:
|MEO||2P, 3P, and 4/5P packages (TV or Internet only)|
Plus gaming (internet only, 3P, and 4/5P)
4/5P with 5G
|Vodafone||2P (internet and landline)|
3P (may include Amazon Prime and HBO Max)
4/5P (various options)
Usually, providers offer unlimited landline national calls, between 140 and 180 channels (including free-to-air), and a streaming platform (often for a limited time). To know what a provider can offer you, check their websites.
Streaming services in Portugal
Portugal offers all the media streaming services you’ll find globally. Sometimes, your TV subscription includes at least one of these.
The list of available streaming services in the country includes:
Getting a VPN
If you want to protect your data and have more online security and privacy, using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) can be a good option. Besides, a VPN can help you to unblock or access online content from other countries. It also makes accessing the media streaming services you already subscribe to possible when moving abroad.
VPN services available in Portugal include:
Listening to the radio in Portugal
Portugal’s many radio stations cater to a broad audience. These include news, talk shows, and music, from alternative to rock, pop to jazz, house to classical, and anything in between. You can tune in via analog services, satellite, and the internet, whether on a physical radio, mobile phones, laptops, or even a TV set. All TV subscription services also list radio stations in their guides.
Radio stations in Portugal
The offering includes national, regional, and local stations that can be state-owned or private. Portugal only has one state-owned company (RTP), but many independent, private ones.
The following radio stations broadcast nationally across Portugal:
- Antena 1 (public) – general broadcasting, including Portuguese music, pop, rock, and sports
- Antena 2 (public) – a cultural station dedicated to jazz, news, specialized information, and children
- Rádio Comercial (private) – pop, dance, and rock music
- Rádio RFM (private) – also pop, dance, and rock music
The two biggest regional stations include:
- TSF Rádio Notícias – for informative news, discussions, and talk shows
- M80 Rádio – mainly in the south of the country and playing music from 1970 to 2000s
Locally, you would also have many options to choose from.
- ANACOM – the national communications and media authority
- ERC – regulates tv in Portugal
- ROLI – Portal das Rádios – lists all the radio stations across the country