History

The power elites have always been influential on the media since the foundation of the Turkish Republic in 1923. In 1928, the switch from the Arabic to the Latin alphabet was made. The single-party government ended in 1950 with Democratic Party (DP) accede to power and with the CHP, which was in power since its formation, becoming the opposition party. Apart from the coups in 1960, 1971 and 1980, Turkey also suffered a "post-modern" coup in 1997. During the 1960 and 1980 coups, the parliament and the constitution were abolished, political activities were banned/suspended. Adnan Menderes, the Prime Minister; Hasan Polatkan, the Finance Minister and Fatin Rüştü Zorlu, the foreign minister of the government that fell with the coup, were executed after extraordinary trials. During the 1971 coup People's Liberation Army of Turkey leaders Deniz Gezmiş, Yusuf Aslan and Hüseyin İnan were executed. 98,000 people were accused of being "organization members." It has been documented that 171 people died under torture, 50 people (rightist, leftist or punitive) were executed. Journalists were given a total of 3,315 years and six months imprisonment. 937 films were banned because they were found "objectionable." 30 tons of newspapers and magazines were destroyed. Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan was forced to resign on 28 February 1997.

In the war/fighting that started with PKK's raid of police stations in 1984, 40,000 people have died; according to a 14 January 1998 dated report of the Internal Migration Commission that was formed within the parliament, 378,335 people were forced to migrate from 820 villages and 2,345 smaller settlements. According to the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey, more than 3,400 villages and arable fields have been emptied in the 1990s; 3 million Kurds were displaced. In the 33 years immense rights violations were carried out, including the right to life. Media freedom and freedom of expression are among the worst violations of the issue.

Conglomerates serving in sectors such as energy, construction etc. m began investing in the media sector in 1990s. Being active in these areas mainly means taking public tenders. Due to public tenders, relations with the government and activities outside of the media, the broadcasting policies of the media outlets are affected, increasing self-censor. This makes "editorial independence" even more questionable.

Media owners and executives had close relations with the military during the 90s. After AKP came to power in 2002, relations with the ruling elite changed in favor of the civilian government. During the 1990s, editor-in-chiefs regularly got phone calls from the generals in Turkish army. Leaked wiretaps of 17-25 December 2013 corruption scandal showed that government officials made phone calls to several mainstream media outlets, directly intervening to their media coverage.


Government interference

 

When big media companies went bankrupt in 2001 economic crisis, state took control of their media outlets. Active involvement of Savings Deposit and Insurance Fund (TMSF) in the media sector, government became an important player in the media business. Recently 11 media outlets were sold to people and companies that have close ties to the government. TMSF is analyzed in detail in the "Politics" page.

 

 

"Poolmedia

 

According to leaked phone conversations in 2014, some pro-government investors were forced to collect money and create what later became known as "the pool media," to buy Sabah-ATV (Turkuvaz Group) from Çalık Group. After Çalık Group sold Sabah and ATV toKalyon Group - owned by Ömer Faruk Kalyoncu who has close ties with the government - "pool media" was finally established. Turkuvaz Media of Kalyon Group was founded by a group of pro-AKP companies (Çalık Holding, Çalık Turizm Kültür İnşaat Sanayi ve Ticaret A.Ş., Gapyapı İnşaat A.Ş.) that won many tenders in the infrastructure sector, is run by Zirve Group, under Kalyon Group. Today "pool media" has become a term that symbolizes media that publishes/broadcasts pro-government stories.

Gezi Parkı resistance

 

Gezi Parkı protests marked a turning point of the media-government relations. Many journalists in mainstream media outlets lost their jobs for criticizing government. President Erdoğan accused media for manipulating society and creating unrest in the country. Besides, mainstream media was criticized for not covering protests but airing documentary on penguins and cooking shows. Thus, penguins became a symbol of media censorship.

 

Failed coup attempt and the state of emergency

 

Turkey is now being governed under a state of emergency, which was declared five days after the failed coup attempt in 15 July 2016 and 19 executive orders, for which AKP holds the Gulenist Organization to account, although having shared the power with the same organization between 2002-2013. Turkey has suspended the European Convention on Human Rights, as part of the Convention's 15th Article. The execution of this Article is still being discussed, in terms of fundamental human rights, especially media freedom and freedom of speech. The state of emergency is being extended every three months. The failed coup attempt is being analyzed in detail in the "Politics" page.

With executive orders (decrees), 178 media outlets [newspapers (62), TVs (34), radios (23)] have been shut down and, at least 2,500 journalists have become unemployed.

 

 

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