Lebanon has been historically known for having had one of the highest ratios of private newspapers per capita in the Middle East and North Africa. As the popularity and rapid development of media outlets online and social networks have increased, print news popularity has dropped significantly, causing a decrease in advertising revenues and sales. Today, out of the 110 licensed print outlets in the country, only 10 daily newspapers and less than 20 political weekly or monthly magazines are still published.
Foreign funding, a main source of money for the print media, has decreased massively since Gulf countries launched their own TV channels and networks. This intensified more recently with the global financial crisis and the fall in oil prices.
For example, Assafir, one of the most popular newspapers in Lebanon, went from selling over 50,000 copies a day in 2010, to selling less than 10,000 copies by 2016, the year when it permanently closed for financial reasons.
Also, Al-Bayrak newspaper and both Monday Morning and La Revue du Liban magazines suspended publication in 2011, while Al-Kifah Al-Arabi newspaper-turned-magazine closed in 2015, along with Strategia and Elfann magazines. Al-Ousbou Al-Arabi, a weekly publication owned by Georges Abou Adal suspended publication in 2014. Al-Hawadeth weekly magazine was shut down the same year, Al-Ittihad newspaper in the autumn of 2017 and Al-Balad newspaper in the summer of 2018. Dar Assayad, which included Al-Anwar newspaper, as well as Assayad, Al-Shabaka, Fairouz, Al-Difaa Al-Arabi and Al-Fares magazines, ceased publication in October 2018.
Over the past five years, the circulation of daily newspapers has decreased quite significantly, leading to the closure of three of the most popular newspapers, both within the last two years. In Lebanon in 2015, 20% of dailies on the market were foreign. Newspaper ad revenues have also decreased in Lebanon from USD 37 million to USD 28 million between 2010 and 2015.
Out of 1,197 political magazine titles registered in the Middle East and North Africa in 2015, Lebanon owned 192 (16%) of them, the second highest in the region. The total circulation of magazines in Lebanon in 2015 was approximately 6 million.