It is more than just a change of company ownership. With the sale of Aydin Dogan’s media unit to the Demiroren Group, media diversity in Turkey is dead, writes Rainer Hermann of Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.
From now on, when you go to a newsagent in Turkey, you don’t need to worry about which paper to buy — you only need to buy one. Then you will know what’s in all the other papers. There are, perhaps, different pictures, but often you’ll find the same phrases, word for word. Because when Aydin Dogan, Turkey’s former “media tsar,” cedes his newspapers and television stations to the Demiroren Group, there will no longer be an independent media group in Turkey.
The few small left-wing newspapers, which can barely stay afloat because hardly anyone dares to advertise in them, or because their most important journalists are in prison, are of no consequence.
It concludes what Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has been single-mindedly pursuing for the last decade: At his request, businessmen close to him are buying up media outlets. It is a good deal for both sides as Erdogan gives government contracts to loyal entrepreneurs who, in turn, use part of their new wealth to buy up various media and eliminate critical voices.
Having said this, the media’s owners initially have to be worn down, and Aydin Doganwas one of the first to find himself in Erdogan’s line of fire. In 2009, a “retrospective tax payment” of around of $3.3 billion (€2.7 billion) was supposed to bring him to his knees. In 2011, he had to cede the first newspapers, Milliyet and Vatan, to the Demiroren family.
These days, Milliyet – once a respected newspaper – is meaningless. The same Demiroren family is now taking over Hurriyet, Turkey’s most influential newspaper; Posta, the most important tabloid and CNN Turk, the last reputable television station.
Within the next year, local and presidential elections will be held in Turkey. In terms of the media, the takeover of the Dogan Holding’s newspapers and television stations means they are no longer a threat. The main opposition party, the Republican People’s Party (CHP), calls it a new, large monopoly. Erdogan’s monopoly commission is unlikely to confirm this, if it is even presented with the case.
The president is in control
Hurriyet has long since stopped publishing any direct criticism of Erdogan. However, the newspaper still offered some room for dissenting opinions. Its sale marks the end of an era. For the first time, a president is now in control of the media, and almost four decades after Aydin Dogan bought his first newspaper, Milliyet, his holding company can concentrate again on its core business, which may well mean it is spared from “paying back taxes.”