Television and Radio Stations in Portugal

Getting to grips with TV standards, digital TV, Portuguese public and commercial television and what's available to the TV viewer in Portugal...

Although there are very few nationally produced TV programmes in English in Portugal, a lot of programming is imported from the UK, the USA, and Spain. These are generally shown in their original language with Portuguese subtitles, rather than dubbed.


Portugal switched to an all-digital broadcasting system in 2012.

Most other countries in the world have either switched over, are switching over, or plan to switch over from analogue TV broadcasting to digital TV broadcasting. Before the advent of digital broadcasting, the main three standards were:

  • NTSC: the USA, Canada, Japan
  • PAL: most of Western Europe, Australasia and South Africa
  • SECAM: France, Africa and Eastern Europe

Today, the main digital standards are:

  • DVB-T: most of the world, including Europe, southern Africa, Australia and southern Asia
  • ATSC: the USA, Canada, Mexico and South Korea
  • ISDB-T: most of South America
  • DTMB: China

The systems are not compatible, so a television produced for one system will generally not work on another. However the switch from analogue to digital means that (for instance) a TV bought in France will work in Portugal.

Digital set-top boxes are available for people still using analogue TVs. However, these only work within one set of standards, so an analogue set brought into another region may still not work with a set-top box.

All new TV sets now sold in Portugal are digital and conform to HD standards. Some TV sets are also compatible for 3D movies.

TV Licence

Portuguese state television is funded directly from taxation and a modest percentage on household electricity bills, and no further licence is necessary.

Television: National Terrestrial Channels

Note: Portuguese TV only has regional television serving Porto, Madeira and the Azores.

Radio Televisão Portuguesa or RTP is the state-owned and funded national station. It has two main channels and a number of special interest channels:

There are also two commercial TV stations:

  • SIC: the first of the private TV channels to be launched in Portugal. It shows mainly game shows, reality shows, youth interest, films and soap operas
  • TVI: showing reality shows, soap operas, game shows and investigative news features. There is also a news channel called TVI 24

Those subscribing to cable TV (TV Cabo) will also get its sister channels SIC Sempre Gold, SIC Mulher (a channel targeting women), SIC Radical (for a younger audience) and SIC Noticias (a news channel).

Television: Cable Channels

Many people in Portugal subscribe to cable TV and fibre optic package, which can be combined with Internet and telephone at a reasonable price.

Procedures vary for different companies. Their websites provide details on how to register for their services and the packages available. A general guide is as follows:

  • Call the sales line of the provider and verify that the residential area is covered by cable or satellite TV.
  • Book an appointment for a technician to come to the premises to install the services required.
  • It will be necessary to fill out a form (Formulário de Adesão) with all relevant details. The client may be required to supply details of Passport/Identity Card, Residency Card, show utility bills and/or bank statements
  • The client must sign up to a contract lasting at least 12 months
  • A Portuguese Tax Number (NIF) (Numero Identificação Fiscal) will be needed

Paying for Cable TV subscription

TV cable services are paid on a monthly basis. There are a number of ways to pay:

  • Direct debit
  • Online payment via the operator's website
  • At the operators store outlets by presenting the bill
  • Using the ATM Multibanco System. At the bottom of each bill (Factura) is a detachable slip with a box (MB – Pagamento por Multibanco). At the ATM choose Select Payments (Pagamentos dos Serviços), key in TV Cabo's Reference Number (Entidade) and Reference Number (Referência), then type in the Total (Montante)

Radio stations

State-owned radio stations

Rádio e Televisão de Portugal is the Public Service broadcasting organisation of Portugal. The main stations are:

There are also a number of other channels:

Commercial radio stations

Streema has a comprehensive list of radio stations in Portugal