Turkey has varied legislations for radio and television enterprises and printed press. The legal framework provides specific rules for media service providers for concentration control, regulation of property and media transparency to some degree.
Legal thresholds to prevent concentration
Media concentration for audio-visual media is regulated with Law 6112 on "Establishment of Radio and Television Enterprises and their Media Services." Furthermore, the Competition Authority is entitled to take action against distortion of competition according to Law 7441 on the "Protection of Competition."Compliance with laws The Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTÜK) is the authority assigned to ensure compliance with the laws for radio, television and on-demand media services. It mainly monitors and supervises the broadcasts of media service providers, and supervises the television channel and radio frequency planning in the framework of frequency bands for the terrestrial radio and television broadcasts.The Competition Authority is the authority for the prohibition of cartels and other restrictions on competition, prevention of abuse of dominant position by an entity, which has dominance in a certain market and prevention of the creation of new monopolies by monitoring some merger and acquisition transactions.
In March 2018, the new bill granting the RTUK (Radio and Television Supreme Council) authority to regulate online content has been approved by the parliament. The regulation of the content was not limited to commercial streaming services such as Netflix, Blu TV etc, as well as foreign-based online platforms.
Independent regulatory bodies
Both the Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTÜK) and the Competition Authority are stipulated as independent public bodies in regulation. The RTÜK Board consists of nine members elected by the Turkish Grand National Assembly for six years. The Competition Board is the decision-making body of the Competition Authority and is composed of seven members, one being the Chairman and the other being Deputy Chairmen. The Council of Ministers appoints these members from among two candidates each, to be nominated from inside or outside the following institutions for a vacant membership: three members from the Ministry of Customs and Trade, one member from the Ministry of Development, one member from Turkish Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges and one member from among the two candidates apiece, to be nominated from inside the Supreme Court of Appeals and Council of State.
Since the members of the Supreme Council are being elected by the Turkish Grand National Assembly from among the nominees based on the number of members for each political party group, the number of nominees depends on the political parties' seats in the Parliament. Therefore the Supreme Council lacks independence by reason of its election process.
RTÜK has for a long time been criticized for its political decisions. Ali Öztunç, who is a former member of the Supreme Council from the Republican People's Party (CHP), has accused the Council of fining opposition channels, such as Halk TV and Samanyolu Haber, for political reasons during the Gezi protests and the 17-25 December 2013 operations.
The legislation in force requires a certain amount of transparency from the media. Media service providers are obliged to publish information on the name of the company, its correspondence address, telephone and email address, its logo/call sign, their broadcasting license and broadcasting networks, the name, surname and contact information of its accountable manager in an up-to-date manner in their websites and notify such information to the Supreme Council. However, the true powers and relations within these companies may never become fully transparent through this obligation.
Granting of licenses
RTÜK is the relevant authority for regulating and supervising radio, television and on-demand media services. The state-owned broadcaster TRT, Turkish Radio-Television Corporation notifies the number of broadcast services to be conducted by terrestrial means and their coverage area to the Supreme Council, which then decides under the frequency plans what percentage of such requests will be met.In the print sector, creating a media is subject to a simple declaration to the Chief Public Prosecutor's office.The creation of online media is not subject to a specific legal regime.
Private media service providers must comply with provisions regarding their company structures and share percentages, as stated in the Law on Establishment of Radio and Television Enterprises and their Media Services. The same company can only provide one radio, one television and one on demand broadcast service. One real person or legal entity can directly or indirectly hold shares of a maximum of four media service providers. However, the annual total commercial communication income of media service providers in which a real person or legal entity is a direct or indirect shareholder cannot exceed thirty per cent of the total commercial communication income of the sector in case of holding shares in more than one media service provider.
Broadcast license may be granted to joint stock companies established in accordance with the provisions of the Turkish Commercial Code for the purpose of exclusively providing radio, television and on demand broadcast service, and cannot be granted to political parties, labor unions, professional organizations, cooperatives, associations, societies, foundations, local administrations, any companies which are established by them and of which they are direct or indirect shareholders and capital market institutions and real persons and legal entities who are direct or indirect shareholders of these institutions. The proportion of total direct foreign capital in a media service provider cannot exceed fifty per cent of the paid-in capital.