The Media Market
In Turkey, mainstream media is owned by conglomerates such as Demirören Group, Doğuş Group, Zirve Holding (Kalyon Group), Ciner Group, and Albayrak Group. Besides the media sector, these groups are active in construction, energy, finance or mining, for example. Revenue from these other business sectors provides financial resources for their media operations.
The most significant change in the media sector in Turkey was the sale of all media assets of Doğan Group to the Demirören Group in March 2018. The Doğan Group is no longer in the media business.
On the state-owned media part, TRT is mainly funded through electricity tax which amounts to 70% of its annual budget.
Private advertising is an important component of media revenues. Some of the big companies conduct their own surveys. Nevertheless, according to experts MOM has consulted, some of the private companies tend to give advertisements to pro-government media outlets in spite of their low or inflated levels of audience data for political concerns.
Distribution of official advertisements
An important source of print media income stems from official advertisements distributed by the state-run Press Advertising Authority (BIK). However, fair distribution of official advertisements, which are especially crucial for the existence of small-scale newspapers, is controversial. For instance, Serhat Albayrak, brother of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's son-in-law (now Energy Minister) Berat Albayrak and CEO of Turkuvaz Media of Kalyon Group, is a member of Press Advertising Institution.
How much advertising revenue each paper gets is determined according to the paper's circulation, and, it is largely claimed that free newspapers are also included in the circulation data of newspapers and that circulation numbers are inflated for more advertisement.
BİK has refused to answer a freedom of information request by MOM to disclose advertising handed out to newspapers in the past 12 months, claiming this information was a "trade secret".
In 2018, Hürriyet, Sabah and Posta were the top three newspapers in advertising revenue (September 2018). Despite the fact that Sözcü is high as a circulation (the third, following Hürriyet and Sabah), it was reported that the number of its advertisements is limited due to its oppositional stance. By September 2018, the most popular daily newspapers were Hürriyet, Sabah, Posta, Türkiye, Takvim, Sözcü, Milliyet, Yeni Şafak, Akşam and Güneş.
Advertisements in newspapers are determined by circulation. Some sources speak of allegations of high circulation in order to get more advertisements. They claim that free newspapers are also included in the circulation.
The significant change in the media sector in 2018 was the Doğan Group’s withdrawal from the media sector by selling its media assets to Demirören Group. With this change, Demirören Groups now owns four newspaper including Vatan daily whose print edition was halted on October 31, 2018, and it became weekend supplement of Milliyet newspaper but it still goes online.
In addition, the print edition of Ciner Group's Habertürk was closed in July 2018 and it goes digital only.
Ethem Sancak's ES MEDYA was also sold to Zeki Yeşildağ who has close tie with President Erdoğan, and they are now known as Türk Medya (T Medya Yatırım San. ve Tic. A.Ş).
Except Burak Akbay's Sözcü, all newspapers in the top 10 list belong to groups known to be close to the ruling AK Party. All owners except for one (Burak Akbay) have major investments outside of media that depend on state contracts, such as in energy and construction.
As of January 2019, Demirören Groups own three daily high circulated newspapers (Hürriyet, Posta, Milliyet), Kalyon Group (Sabah ve Takvim) and Türk Medya (previously known as ES Medya) has two dailies (Akşam ve Güneş). İhlas Group (Türkiye), Estetik Yayıncılık (Sözcü) , Albayrak Group (Yeni Şafak) each owns one newspaper.
The Press Advertising Authority (BIK) General Assembly accepted a new regulation on 5 October, 2016, which stated that if the owners or majority of partners of media organizations have a case against them, based on "crimes against constitution" or "anti-terror law", their right to receive state advertising would be seized until the case is resolved. Based on the same regulation, media employees who have committed crimes that are in the scope of the above-mentioned crimes will be dismissed from their positions within five days. Media outlets that do not abide by this regulation will lose their right to state advertising.
With this regulation, officially distributed advertising is now used as a threat against editorial independence and job safety.
On 29 March 2016, Cumhuriyet daily was issued an advertisement ban by BIK for 18 days. The reason for the penalty was because the daily had printed a photo of a prosecutor while he was being held hostage by an outlawed leftist group (DHKP-C) and because the daily published cartoons from Charlie Hebdo in solidarity with the magazine, after mass shootings of the magazine's employees.
Experts contacted by the MOM team expressed concerns regarding unfair distribution. These concerns, if they are only concerns, can only be eliminated if official institutions or media outlets share information regarding advertisement distributions.
According to the report published by the Advertisers' Association in March 2019, media investments increased 2.9 percent in 2018, compared to the previous year, reaching almost USD 2.272. In 2018 the television sector held the highest share of advertising revenues by 47%.
Online advertising represented the fastest growing sector and held the second largest share by 28,9% with a 14,8% growth. However, this increase in digital media sales does not necessarily affect "news portals" only, except for the websites of a couple of popular newspapers, but mainly goes to freemail-providers and other portals.
Newspaper is the most popular media after TV. According to data made public by Advertisers' Association, the sector declined by 19 percent in 2018 so newspapers only got 9,5 percent share of advertising.
The estimates of 2018 show that Hürriyet, Sabah, and Posta are expected to get the top three largest shares.
Regulations on shareholding
A new law passed in 2011 - "The Law on the Establishment and Broadcasting Services of Radios and Televisions", introduced restrictions on media ownership: "In the case of multiple media service providers held by a shareholder, the annual total commercial communication income of media service provider enterprises where a real or legal entity has direct or indirect shareholding may not exceed 30 % of the total commercial communication income of the sector for the relevant year." Article 19/F under this law also states that foreign capital of a media company cannot exceed 50% of the capital receipts of this company (income received by the company which is nonrecurring in nature).