The Media Market
In Turkey, mainstream media is owned by conglomerates such as Doğan Group, Doğuş Group, Zirve Holding (Kalyon Group), Ciner Group, Demirören 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 provide financial resources for their media operations.
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".
According to data achieved from BİK, the most popular daily newspapers were Hürriyet, Sabah, Posta, Türkiye, Takvim, Sözcü, Habertürk, Milliyet, Yeni Şafak and Güneş. Doğan and Kalyon Groups both own two dailies. İhlas Group, Estetik Yayıncılık, Ciner Group, Demirören Group, Albayrak Grıup and Ethem Sancak each own one newspaper.
Except for Doğan's Hürriyet and Posta, and 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.
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 commited 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 Advertisers' Association, media investments increased 9 per cent in 2015, compared to the previous year, reaching USD 1.8 million. In 2015 television sector held the highest share of advertising revenues by 50,51%. Online advertising represented the fastest growing sector and held the second largest share by 22,9% with a 25,4% 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. Insofar, with 15,4% of all media advertising, print media can still be considered the second largest share after television.
Newspaper is the most popular media after TV. According to data made public by Advertisers' Association, in the first six months of 2016, the sector grew by 14 per cent and newspapers have 14.75 per cent share of advertising, coming second after TVs which got 53.2 per cent of advertising.
Estimates of the first six months of 2016 show that Hurriyet, 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 non recurring in nature).