Political Affiliations

TRT and AA

Turkish Radio and Television (TRT), as it is defined under Law 2954, is an "unbiased public entity." The discussion that TRT does not practice public broadcasting has more or less been an issue during all governments. The General Director of TRT, Şenol Göka, worked an advisor in the Prime Ministry from 2012 until he was appointed as the General Director of TRT in October 2014.

Anadolu Agency (AA) is an official news agency, most shares of which belong to the Undersecreteriat of the Treasury. Şenol Kazancı, AA's General Director, was an adviser to President Erdoğan for three years until December 2014, when he was appointed to the helm of AA.

The agency's finances are often contested. In July 2014 it was revealed that media outlets owed the agency approximately USD 423,000 in subscription fees.

Radio and Television Supreme Council

The Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTÜK), responsible for regulating radio and television broadcasts, consists of nine members, elected by the Parliament (TBMM) among candidates nominated by political parties. Despite its definition in the Constitution as being an autonomous public entity, the selection and appointment process of the members is not transparent and the council is criticized for its lack of independence and political composition. Out of 9 members of the Supreme Council, 4 members are from AKP, 2 from CHP, 2 from MHP, and 1 from HDP as of July 2015. and cannot avoid political interference. There are no independent representatives of media associations, trade unions, academia or audience. AKP representative İlhan Yerlikaya is the president since November 2014. He is a former parliament member from AKP, between 2011-2014.

 

Business interests come first

Among the shareholders of companies that own the top 40 media outlets, most are business people. The groups they own (Doğan, Doğuş, Demirören, Ciner, Albayrak, Kalyon, İhlas and Ethem Sancak companies) operate in sectors such as construction, energy, mining and tourism.

Some of them, such as the Albayrak, Kalyon, İhlas and Doğuş Groups have won major public tenders in the past few years, ranging from the third airport to metro construction and urban redevelopment projects on a neighbourhood scale. These investments are more closely examined in the Business Interests section. Investments in sectors other than media make profit, politics and editorial choices intertwined with each other.

The Doğan Group and its affiliated oil company, Petrol Ofisi Corporation, were banned from entering public tenders for 237 days in May 2015. In his speeches regarding the media, President Erdoğan targeted the groups's owner Aydın Doğan and the group's journalism frequently. The night of 15 July 2016, when Erdoğan spoke to the people through FaceTime on CNN Türk, was a turning point in this process.

When Doğan is eliminated, the rest of the 7 groups that own other major businesses (Doğuş, Demirören, Ciner, Albayrak, Kalyon, İhlas and Ethem Sancak companies) publish almost half out of the top 40 media outlets compiled by MOM according to their audience shares. Among the top 40 media outlets, they own seven newspapers (Sabah, Türkiye, Takvim, Habertürk, Milliyet, Yeni Şafak, Güneş ), four TVs (ATV, A Haber, SHOW TV, Star TV, NTV) 4 radios (A Haber Radyo, Kral FM, NTV Radyo, TGRT FM) and four websites (sabah.com.tr, milliyet.com.tr, haberturk.com, gazetevatan.com).

Details of all owners' biographies can be found under the Individuals section. However, the interests and political affiliations of Ethem Sancak, Ömer Faruk Kalyoncu, Zekeriya Karaman, Mustafa Çelik, Demirören and Albayrak families are worth special mention.

• The Demirören family's (Erdoğan Demirören and children: Fikret Tayfun Demirören, Yıldırım Demirören, Meltem Oktay) wealth is estimated to be around 1-1,5 billion dollars, acquired mostly from mining, energy and construction. Erdoğan Demirören is the majority shareholder of the Demirören Group, which holds the majority shares of the companies that publish Milliyet and Vatan newspapers and their websites. The recordings of alleged phone conversations between Demirören and then Prime Minister Erdoğan were leaked in May 2014, in which the Prime Minister scolds him for a news story, asking for those responsible to be fired, and Demirören is heard crying. Erdoğan Demirören and his two sons who are also shareholders in his companies (Yıldırım, Tayfun) attended President Erdoğan's daughter's wedding on May 2016. In 2003, then Prime Minister Erdoğan was Fikret Tayfun Demirören's wedding witness.


• Six brothers of the Albayrak family (Brothers Ahmet, Nuri, Bayram, Kazım, Muzaffer and Mustafa Albayrak) are shareholders of Albayrak Yayın Holding, which owns Yeni Şafak newspaper, seven magazines and two TVs. The group has won dozens of public tenders, especially from municipalities since the 1990s, some of which were subject to claims and investigations of corruption. Tümosan, a vehicle company owned by the group, took a 190 million Euro tender to construct tanks for the Ministry of National Defence in 2015. Albayrak group is known to have close ties to the ruling AK Parti and President Erdoğan, who was Nuri Albayrak's daughter's wedding witness in 2002 and attended his son's engagement ceremony in 2012.


• Ethem Sancak was the manager of a small medicine depot in 1988, when he founded a medical and cosmetics distribution company in 2001, later partnering with Alliance Boots company which grew to become the largest with (40 per cent) in the sector. The company started to become active in Russia, Algeria and Egypt's medical sector. The company transferred its shares in 2013 and quit the Medikal Park Group hospital chain, one of the two largest of the country, in 2006. In 2007 he became a partner of Star daily and Kanal 24 TV - his first involvement in the media sector. Sancak explained his selling of the medai outlets by saying "My business there was over, so I sold." He has said he's "in love" with Erdoğan and would sacrifice his family for him, and has admitted to having entered the media sector to support him.

In 2013, he bought Güneş, Akşam, Sky360 TV, along with two radio channels and various magazines from the Savings Deposit Insurance Fund (TMSF), which had seized it from Çukurova Group. In 2014 he bought Star daily and Kanal 24 TV back from businessman Fettah Tamince. He has taken an ombudsman position in AK Parti since 2012. He has also purchased BMC (via a public tender where he was the only participant in 2014), a company that has won many tenders including producing tanks and water cannons for the Turkish army and police.

• Zekeriya Karaman is a shareholder in Hayat Görsel Yayıncılık and the CEO of Beyaz Holding. He was the co-founder and board member of Yeni Dünya İletişim (Kanal 7 TV). Yeni Dünya Media Group owns Kanal 7 TV, Ülke TV, Kanal 7 Europe, haber7.com and Radio 7. Kanal 7 TV started broadcasting in 1994 on Istanbul Municipality's TV channel frequency. In July 2011, he was jailed with charges of forging documents and fraud, in connnection to the Lighthouse Case in Germany regarding "buying Kanal 7 shares with charity money." On 15 May 2015 he was aquitted, the case was barred by limitation. President Erdoğan was a marriage witness in his Habib Karaman's wedding in 2016. Karaman's wife's sister is married to Erdoğan's son Burak. One of the other shareholders of Hayat Görsel, Mustafa Çelik, has a daughter (Sena Nur Çelik) who was elected as a parliament member from AKP in 2015.

 

 

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