Chapter One: News Access and Consumption

In this section we lay out the overall shape of news consumption, the time spent on different devices, and also explain in more detail the segmentation we have used to drive our insights. We also explore interest in different types of news, such as political and entertainment news, along with attitudes to partiality and polarisation of news.

  1. Frequency of Access and Interest in News
  2. Segmentation Approaches
  3. Sources and Access to News
  4. When and Where Do We Access the News?
  5. Interest in Different Types of News
  6. The Partiality and Polarisation of News


In order to understand the results it is important to set out the demographics and internet use in each country, which will contribute to some of the international differences that we find. We also offer a brief pen portrait of the media landscape in our nine surveyed countries, to help contextualise the results.

Internet penetration, gender and age breakdown by country

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  UK Ger Spa Ita Fra Den US Bra Jap
Internet pop 53m 67m 32m 36m 52m 5m 245m 88m 101m
M 48% 48% 49% 48% 49% 50% 48% 49% 49%
F 52% 52% 51% 52% 51% 50% 50% 51% 51%
18-24 12% 10% 11% 9% 12% 13% 9% 21% 9%
25-34 17% 14% 21% 18% 17% 16% 18% 24% 15%
35-44 17% 18% 19% 19% 18% 19% 19% 21% 17%
45-54 19% 18% 15% 16% 18% 21% 15% 16% 15%
55+ 36% 39% 33% 38% 35% 31% 37% 18% 44%

Whilst most of our countries see internet penetration of 80% or more, Italy and Brazil in particular have far lower levels of access. In those countries we are looking at the habits of around (or less than) half the adult population. It should also be noted that the Brazilian sample is (uniquely) an urban-based sample (and skews far younger, with roughly half the proportion of over 55s, compared to the other countries surveyed). The international comparisons will still be relevant in terms of understanding differences in the online sphere, but anyone interpreting these results should be careful not to suggest these figures represent the total adult population, especially when considering offline versus online consumption.

United Kingdom

The media environment is characterised by a vigorous and highly competitive national press – including a strong tabloid sector accounting for the majority of newspapers sold daily – and the best-known public broadcaster in the world. The BBC reaches around 80% of all consumers with news on all platforms each week.


The country’s federal structure has shaped its media environment with a number of regional and national public broadcasters competing for audiences with powerful commercial operators. Each of the 16 regions regulates its own private and public broadcasting. Germany is home to some of the world’s largest media conglomerates, including Bertelsmann and the publisher Axel Springer. There are several national newspapers, but the press market is strongest at a regional level, with more than 300 titles. Newspapers and magazines have also taken a lead online, with public service broadcasters facing restrictions on the extent of their digital activities.


The media in Spain have witnessed a significant expansion in recent years with the emergence of new commercial operators and the launch of digital services. Radio Television Espanola (RTVE) is the public broadcaster. There are 13 regional TV stations backed by regional governments and many local stations. Ownership of daily newspapers is concentrated within large media groups with popular news brands such as El Pais and El Mundo leading the charge online.


Silvio Berlusconi’s Mediaset empire operates Italy’s top private TV stations, and the public broadcaster, Rai, has also been subject to political influence. Between them, Rai and Mediaset dominate Italy’s TV market, which remains the main source of news for the bulk of the population. The Italian press is highly regionalised, reflecting the country’s history and character. Most newspapers are privately owned, often linked to a political party, or run by a large media group. Newspaper readership figures (overall) are low compared to other European countries.


France has more than 100 daily newspapers. Most of them are in private hands and are not linked to political parties and the most successful papers are often regional rather than national. Online, many of the best known national titles such as Le Monde and Le Figaro face competition from new players such as Mediapart, Rue89, and now the Huffington Post. Television news remains popular, with viewership split between France Télévisions, privately owned TF1, and a range of cable and satellite providers. France’s long-established commercial radio, particularly RTL and Europe 1, still commands large audiences, along with a range of publicly funded stations such as France Inter.


Denmark’s main public broadcaster, Danmarks Radio (DR), operates six TV networks alongside national and regional radio stations. It is funded by a licence fee and is also a strong presence online. TV2, a government-owned commercial broadcaster, operates a round the clock TV news channel along with a number of niche channels. Popular newspapers include Jyllands-Posten, Ekstra-Bladet, Berlingske Tidende, BT, and Politiken, all of which have a healthy market share online and have performed particularly well compared with the websites of news broadcasters.

United States

There are more than 1,500 daily newspapers in the US, most of them with a local or regional readership. Print circulations are in long-term decline as readers turn to the internet. More than 300 US newspapers, including the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times, have now introduced paywalls – twice as many as at this time last year.1 In TV news, the big networks ABC, CBS, and NBC dominated for decades until the take-up of cable and satellite and the arrival of Fox which is now the best rated cable news network. There are around 10,000 commercial radio stations, including many dedicated to news, sports, and talk. The US is the home of the internet and so it is appropriate that one of the early pioneers, Yahoo, is the single biggest news provider online. Traditional news companies face new threats from pure players like the Huffington Post, now owned by AOL.


South America’s biggest media market is home to thousands of radio stations and hundreds of TV channels. Media ownership is highly concentrated. Domestic conglomerates such as Globo, Brazil’s most-successful broadcaster, dominate the market and run TV and radio networks, newspapers, and successful online operations. Brazilians are among the world’s top users of blogs and social networks and use of online is growing fast. Google’s Orkut and Facebook are the two biggest social networks.


There are five national terrestrial TV companies, including publicly funded NHK, which also runs national radio networks. Newspaper readership is particularly high, with around 80% of Japanese reading a paper every day. National dailies sell in millions, circulations boosted by afternoon and evening editions. An increasing number of newspapers charge for access to their websites. Japan was amongst the first to offer internet access via mobile phones, using walled-garden services like iMode. These feature phones are gradually being replaced by smartphones.