Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is MOM?
The “Media Ownership Monitor” (MOM) has been developed as a mapping tool in order to create a publicly available, continuously updated database that lists owners of all relevant mass media outlets (press, radio, television sectors and online media).
MOM aims to shed light on the risks to media pluralism caused by media ownership concentration (for more information: Methodology). In order to grasp the national characteristics and detect risk-enhancing or risk-reducing factors for media concentration, MOM also qualitatively assesses the market conditions and legal environment.
2. Who is behind MOM?
MOM has been proposed and launched by Reporter ohne Grenzen e. V. – the German section of the international human rights organization Reporters without Borders (Reporters sans frontières, RSF), that aims to defend freedom of the press and the right to inform and be informed anywhere in the world.
In each country, RSF cooperates with a local partner organization. In Turkey, RSF worked with Bianet - Independent Communication Network.
The project is funded by the Federal German Ministry of Economic Development and Cooperation (BMZ).
3. Why is Transparency of Media Ownership important?
Media pluralism is a key aspect of democratic societies as free, independent, and diverse media reflect divergent viewpoints and allow criticism of people in power. Risks to diversity of ideas are caused by media market concentration, when only a few players exert dominant influence on public opinion and raise entrance barriers for other players and perspectives (media ownership concentration). The biggest obstacle to fight it is lack of transparency of media ownership: How can people evaluate the reliability of information, if they don´t know who provides it? How can journalists work properly, if they don´t know who controls the company they work for? And how can media authorities address excessive media concentration, if they don´t know who is behind the media´s steering wheel?
MOM thus aims to create transparency and to answer the question “who eventually controls media content?” in order to raise public awareness, to create a fact base for advocacy to hold political and economic players accountable for the existing conditions.
4. What kind of Concentration Control does MOM suggest?
MOM doesn’t make normative statements – it doesn’t suggest how to control media ownership. Which form of media concentration control can work, depends on the country context, the existing legal and market conditions, the ownership landscape.
MOM provides a transparency tool to enforce a democratic discussion on that issue as well as good governance: decisions are likely to be of higher quality and to better reflect the needs and wishes of the people if they have access to adequate information and broad consultations, with views and opinions freely shared.
5. How is Data collected?
♦ Preferably, official data sources, and/or sources with a high level of reliability and trust are used.
♦ The Prime Ministry Communication Office and Media Advertising Institution (BIK) of Turkey were referred to many times for this project.
♦ Whenever not publicly available, information was directly requested of media companies and research institutes.
♦ We used mainly data made available by:
Nielsen Holdings PLC
Radio Television Regulatory Authority of Turkey (RTUK)
Trade Registry Gazette (ticaretsicil.gov.tr)
Istanbul Chamber of Commerce
Press Observatory and Research Foundation (BIAK)
Turkish Statistical Institute (TUIK)
In order to guarantee and verify the objective evaluation, MOM worked with an advisory group that commented and consulted throughout the research process. It was composed of national specialists with a substantial knowledge and experience in the media and communications fields. Amongst others, the following experts were accompanying the research process:
Ms. Ceren Sözeri, Galatasaray University
Mr. Asaf Ardak, President of Press Observatory and Research Foundation (BIAK)
Ms. Nihan Güneli, Legal Advisor
Ms. Nadire Mater, Bianet
Mr. Evren Gönül, Bianet
All sources are thoroughly documented and archived. Information is available on request at Bianet.
6. How is "most relevant Media" defined?
The main question is: which media outlets influence the opinion-forming process? In order to scan all relevant media, we included all traditional media types (Print, Radio, TV, Online).
The media were selected according to the following criteria:
MOM focused on media with the highest reach, measured by audience share. Because there was almost no public data on the finances of media companies, we used audience shares of these companies to highlight their influence on public opinion. While calculating cross-media ownership and the largest media companies in the sector, we included audience data on the whole of the market. This way we calculated the companies that hold the media outlets with largest audience shares.
The basis for selection were the media consumption surveys or information provided by Nielsen, Turkish Statistical Institute (TUIK), Television Viewership Research Institution (TIAK), Media Advertising Institution (BIK), Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) Turkey. These are all available upon request to Bianet.
At most 10 media outlets per media type (TV, radio, print, Online) were selected for research. However, we also added the media that were once in the top 10 but were shut down for political reasons.
We studied mainly the largest media companies in depth. However, information on some smaller companies and groups can also be found on the website, because these were also relevant to the matter of political control over media.
We looked at past articles, reports regarding ownership and political affiliations. We did use the wiretaps released in 2013, that claim to show government officials as high as President Erdogan himself speaking to media owners, business people. Although there seemed to be no personal and business relation between Doğuş Conglomerate -which owns Doğuş Media Group-, for example, because the wiretaps showed Erdoğan and his advisors being directly involved in the affairs of a media group, we considered Doğuş Media as a politically affiliated media group.
The study focuses on general information with a national focus. As such, media with specific thematic focus (music, sport), social networks, search engines and advertisement were excluded.
7. How are the Media Outlets selected?
The TV stations were selected according to their audience reach nationwide.
Source: Television Viewership Research Institution Data, July 2016
The top 10 print media were selected according to their audience reach nationwide.
Source: Media Advertising Institution (BIK) Freedom of Information Application for June 2016.
The top 10 radio stations were selected according to their audience reach nationwide.
Source: Nielsen Report for June 2016
News websites were selected according to their audience shares nationwide.
Source: June 2016, IAB Gemius Research
8. Why Turkey?
Turkey is ranked #151 out in 180 countries in the 2016 according the World Press Freedom Index published by Reporter without Borders. The country has a score of 50.56. Turkey has been in the international news for its decrease in media freedom, especially since the anti-government Gezi protests that took place in the country in 2013. While the streets of almost all of the cities of the country were filled with protestors, continuing a resistance against security forces for months, the major all-news channel of Turkey, CNN Turk, was famously showing documentaries on penguins.
The government crackdown on critical media has been massive recently, suggesting that the government was trying to control the dissemination of facts and opinion.
Some wiretaps released in the end of 2013 suggested that government officials, as high as President Erdoğan himself, were directly involved in the management of TV programs.
There have been many times in the recent history of Turkey, when as much as seven dailies came out with the same headline - as if the headline was provided to them from somewhere above.
Many journalists who were critical of the government were fired from once-mainstream media outlets; owners of critical media have been threatened with tax suits that could bring down a whole company, while owners of outlets that seem to support the government have made better and better in their investments in other sectors.
As a country that has been developing in many aspects, the freedom of media in Turkey means a lot to not only its citizens but the citizens of the whole world.
9. Does the MOM only exist for Turkey?
No. MOM was developed as a generic methodology which can be universally applied – and potentially will be. Notwithstanding that media concentration trends are observable worldwide, implementation and analysis will first take place in developing countries. During the pilot phase in 2015, next to Cambodia, the MOM was also launched in Columbia. In 2016 Turkey is among six countries where the project was implemented: Ukraine, Tunisia, Peru, Mongolia and the Philippines.
10. What are the limitations of the study?
No economic data: Market concentration based on market share could not be calculated since complete and credible numbers were not available publicly. Only two media outlets shared them on request.
Contradictory data: Print circulation is a highly debated issue in Turkey. The official data provided by distribution companies is questioned by many, with a lot of evidence suggesting that print outlets are distributed for free so that they get a higher amount of advertising.
“Pool media”: The phenomena of “pool media” in Turkey is that many companies are rumored to have invested in the acquiring of certain media outlets, to be used for government propaganda, whereas the owner seems to be only one company. The rest of the investors are not public or official.
11. Who do we target?
The data base allows each citizen to get informed on the media system in general; creates a fact base for civil society’s advocacy efforts to further promote public consciousness on media ownership and concentration; is a point of reference for consulting competition authorities or governmental bodies when establishing suitable regulatory measures to safeguard media pluralism.
12. What happens next?
The database is a snapshot of the current situation, contextualized by historical facts. It will be updated regularly by the local partner organization, Bianet.
After the rollout in other countries (planned for 2016 and beyond), an international ranking on the level of media ownership concentration will be established, similar to the Ranking of Press Freedom by Reporter Without Borders.
13. Are there similar projects?
Radio and TV Broadcast Sector Report (Turkish Radio and TV Regulatory Authority Report, 2014)