Media of Turkey

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The media of Turkey includes a wide variety of domestic and foreign periodicals expressing disparate views, and domestic newspapers are extremely competitive.[1] However, media ownership is concentrated in the hands of a few large private media groups which are typically part of wider conglomerates controlled by wealthy individuals, which limits the views that are presented.[1] In addition, the companies are willing to use their influence to support their owners' wider business interests, including by trying to maintain friendly relations with the government. The media exert a strong influence on public opinion.[1] Censorship in Turkey is also an issue, and in the 2000s Turkey has seen many journalists arrested and writers prosecuted. On Reporters without Borders' Press Freedom Index it has fallen from being ranked around 100 in 2005 to around 150 in 2013.

By circulation, the most popular daily newspapers are Zaman, Posta, Hürriyet, Sabah, Habertürk and Sözcü and newspapers with oppositional editorial line against the government corresponds to 65% of daily newspapers in circulation while pro-government newspapers's share is 25%.[2][3] The broadcast media have a very high penetration as satellite dishes and cable systems are widely available.[1] The "Radio and Television Supreme Council" (RTÜK) is the government body overseeing the broadcast media.[1]

The largest operator is the Doğan Media Group, which in 2003 received 40 percent of the advertising revenue from newspapers and broadcast media in Turkey.[1] In 2003 a total of 257 television stations and 1,100 radio stations were licensed to operate, and others operated without licenses.[1] Of those licensed, 16 television and 36 radio stations reached national audiences.[1] In 2003 some 22.9 million televisions and 11.3 million radios were in service.[1] Aside from Turkish, the state television network offers some programs in Arabic, Circassian, Kurdish, and Zaza.[1]

Major media groups[edit]

In 2004 three major media groups dominated advertising revenues: Doğan Media Group and Sabah took 80% of newspaper advertising, and Doğan, Sabah and Çukurova took 70% of television advertising.[4] "In the Turkish context, highly concentrated corporate media power (such as Dogan’s) is even more significant when three additional factors are considered: (1) the willingness of corporate owners to ‘instrumentalize’ reporting in order to fit the wider political-economic interests of the parent company; (2) the weakness of journalists and other employees in the face of the power of corporate owners; and (3) the fact that corporate power is combined with restrictive state regulation on issues of freedom of speech."[4]


Part of the reason for journalistic weakness vis-a-vis owners is the lack of unions, as the International Federation of Journalists and European Federation of Journalists noted in 2002:[4]

At the beginning of 1990s, workers of two major newspapers, Hürriyet and Milliyet, resigned from the union because of pressure from the employer (Aydin Dogan). Hostility from employers meant that some workplaces where there had been union organisation (including, for example, Tercüman, Günes, and the privately owned UBA news agency) were closed down. Union organisation was not possible in newspapers (Star, Radikal, and others) nor in radio and television companies which began their publication and broadcasting lives later on. The Sabah group and other media groups have never permitted union organisation. (IFJ/EFJ, 2002: 4)[4]

Turkey's 2001 financial crisis further strengthened media owners' hands, as 3-5000 journalists were fired, and the most troublesome ones targeted first.[4]


Since 2011, the AKP has increased restrictions on freedom of speech, freedom of the press and internet use,[5] and television content,[6] as well as the right to free assembly.[7] It has also developed links with media groups, and used administrative and legal measures (including, in one case, a $2.5 billion tax fine) against critical media groups and critical journalists: "over the last decade the AKP has built an informal, powerful, coalition of party-affiliated businessmen and media outlets whose livelihoods depend on the political order that Erdogan is constructing. Those who resist do so at their own risk."[8]

NTV broadcast van covered with protest graffiti during the 2013 protests in Turkey, in response to relative lack of coverage of mainstream media of the protests, 1 June 2013

These behaviours became particularly prominent in 2013 in the context of the Turkish media coverage of the 2013 protests in Turkey. The BBC noted that while some outlets are aligned with the AKP or are personally close to Erdogan, "most mainstream media outlets - such as TV news channels HaberTurk and NTV, and the major centrist daily Milliyet - are loth to irritate the government because their owners' business interests at times rely on government support. All of these have tended to steer clear of covering the demonstrations."[9] Few channels provided live coverage – one that did was Halk TV.[10]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Turkey country profile. Library of Congress Federal Research Division (January 2006). This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  2. ^ "Daily Circulation of Newspapers by June 2014". Retrieved 2 June 2014. 
  3. ^ "Tiraj". Medyatava. Retrieved 2008-08-29. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f Christian Christensen (2007), "Concentration of ownership, the fall of unions and government legislation in Turkey", Global Media and Communication, August 2007 3: 179-199, doi:10.1177/1742766507078416
  5. ^ "Charges Against Journalists Dim the Democratic Glow in Turkey". The New York Times. 4 January 2012. 
  6. ^ "In Erdogan's Turkey, Censorship Finds Fertile Ground". Al-Monitor. 13 January 2013. 
  7. ^ "Erdogan Visit to Berlin Betrays Tensions". Der Spiegel. 2013. 
  8. ^ Foreign Policy, 2 June 2013, How Democratic Is Turkey?
  9. ^ BBC, 4 June 2013, Turks deprived of TV turn to Twitter for protest news
  10. ^ Deutsche Welle, 1 June 2013, Solidarity with Istanbul protesters grows in Turkey and abroad

Further reading[edit]

  • Mine Gencel Bek (2004), "Research Note: Tabloidization of News Media: An Analysis of Television News in Turkey", European Journal of Communication August 2004 19: 371-386, doi:10.1177/0267323104045264
  • Christensen, M. (2010), "Notes on the public sphere on a national and post-national axis: Journalism and freedom of expression in Turkey", Global Media and Communication, 6 (2), pp. 177–197.
  • Hawks, B.B. (2011), "Is the press really free?: The recent conflict between the government and media in Turkey", International Journal of the Humanities, 8 (11), pp. 75–90.

External links[edit]