Reports : TESEV

SOME QUOTES FROM SEVERAL TESEV REPORTS :

Media Content: The Regulatory Framework and Court Decisions (p.35)

« Article 25 of the constitution guarantees freedom of expression and protects individuals from state interference on expression of their opinions. Article 28 protects freedom of the press and imposes on the state a positive obligation to undertake the requisite measures to ensure the exercise of this freedom. The constitution guarantees the right to declare or disseminate opinions individually or collectively and to access and share information and opinions without state interference.

What lies beyond this liberal façade, however, is a framework where nationalism, statism and cultural conservatism emerge as the supreme values looming over individual rights. The exercise of fundamental freedoms is subject to compliance with; inter alia, national security, national unity and state secrets.

The constitution entrusts the state with the duty to make sure that citizens act and think in accordance with the ideals of Atatürk, the values of the nation and the morals of the family. Article 41 identifies the family as the ‘foundation of the Turkish society’ and tasks the state with taking measures to protect ‘the peace and welfare of the family’ and to protect children against all kinds of abuse and violence. Article 58 allots the

duty to protect the youth against abuse, exploitation and ‘bad habits’ such as alcoholism, drugs and gambling to the state, and as well as the responsibility to raise young people in accordance ‘the principles and revolutions of Atatürk.’ Making note of this ‘state- centrist approach,’ the Council of Europe (CoE) Commissioner for Human Rights pointed out the pervasive recognition ‘that the letter and spirit of the present Turkish Constitution represent a major obstacle to the effective protection of pluralism and freedom of expression’ (Hammarberg, 2011: para. 11). » […]

Executive Summary

Media policy in Turkey has shaped the media-state relationship since the establishment of the first newspaper in the late Ottoman period. While regulations were often employed as an effective disciplinary tool against the press in processes of state formation and modernization, opponent journalists have constantly been suppressed by state and non-state actors who claimed to act in the name of ‘state interests’.

The coup d’état in 1980 and the concomitant economic liberalisation changed the ownership structure of the media sector with the entry of new investors. Following the abolishment of state monopoly on broadcasting in the 1990s, big conglomerates expanding through vertical and horizontal mergers have dominated all fields of the media. The high concentrated market structure in the media was made possible due to the inadequacy of legal barriers to cross- mergers, as well as the lack of measures that would prevent media conglomerates from participating in public tenders in other sectors of the economy. The shortcomings of the regulatory framework to promote press freedom and diversity in the media has encouraged big corporations to regard themselves as legitimate political actors that can bargain with the government.

Media ownership was restructured following the economic crisis in 2001. Big media groups, which had investments in the financial and banking sectors, were particularly affected by the crisis; some being completely wiped out of the market, while others were seized by the state. Shortly after the Justice and Development Party (Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi- AK Parti) came to power in 2002, the mainstream media was reconfigured ideologically as either ‘opponent’ or ‘proponent’ to the government.

Notwithstanding the limited positive effects of the EU accession process on media freedom, there are dozens of ECtHR judgments regarding freedom of expression and freedom of the press waiting to be executed by the Turkish state. Journalists who are powerless vis-à-vis the owners and political power are particularly affected by the political polarisation in the media. The structural obstacles to unionization and the lack of solidarity in the profession lead to labour exploitation, low quality content and violations of media ethics.

The lack of a strong pro-democracy social movement; the ideological conservatism of the judiciary; the institutional weakness of the parliament; and the lack of democracy within political parties render the government – and future governments – too powerful vis-à-vis the society and the media. On a positive note, however, there is a growing awareness on the need for social monitoring of the media. In the absence of a widely accepted and established self- regulatory framework, various non-governmental organizations and activist groups started to watch the media in order to expand the culture of diversity and to reduce discrimination, racism and hate speech.

Culture: (p.15-16)

« In recent years, Turkey has not just become more politically and economically active in the Middle East but culturally as well. The popularity of Turkish television series and holidaying in Turkey has become far more apparent. Thus the 2010 survey included questions about television and holidaying to understand this phenomenon.

Turkey as a destination has become more popular. Between 2007 and 2009, the number of tourists arriving from the surveyed countries increased from between 25% to 55% depending on the country.

Since 2009, Turkey has lifted visa requirements with Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria in both directions as well as for Saudi Arabian citizens. Indeed, comparing the number of tourists arriving from these four countries in the month of July 2010 to July 2009 reveals the impact of this policy: there was a 32% increase in the number of tourists from Jordan, an 88% increase from Lebanon, a 133% increase from Syria and a 59% increase from Saudi Arabia.

The results show that respondents saw Turkey as the most popular Middle Eastern destination. Indeed, Turkey was the most popular destination in Lebanon (51%), Iran (50%), Syria (43%), Jordan (41%), Palestine (41%) and Saudi Arabia (26%). Turkey’s nearest rival, Saudi Arabia, was the most popular destination amongst Egyptians only (32%). When asked about holidaying outside the region, France was the most popular destination but Turkey was the second most popular alongside Germany with 9%.

Turkish television series, dubbed in Arabic, are contributing to the visibililty of the country in the Middle East. Today the volume of these exports to the region is around $50 million per annum.

Indeed, television series have become an important part of Turkey’s soft power; the number of people who watch Turkish TV series in the region is very substantial and this has the potential to have a lasting effect on Turkey’s image. The survey results confirm this popularity: 78% of respondents had watched a Turkish TV series. The number of viewers was particularly high in Syria (85%) and Iraq (89%). Indeed, it’s not just the series themselves but Turkish celebrities that are popular in the Middle East: respondents could name no fewer than 15 Turkish TV series and 15 celebrities. Knowledge of Turkey’s television series and celebrities was particularly noteworthy in Iraq. »

 Television Broadcasting: (p.51-52)

« According to data from the Radio Television Supreme Council, there are currently 24 national, 15 regional and 209 local television enterprises on air. The categorization as national, regional and local broadcasting was done in consideration of RTÜK’s terrestrial broadcasting frequencies plan and the licenses granted under said plan. Yet, the developing technology and the widespread usage of satellite receiver systems continue to blur the distinction between local, regional and national broadcasting. For example, a television enterprise established in and broadcasting from the Black Sea region can have its broadcasts reach the national and even international audiences through satellite. Hence, although it may have a local broadcasting licence, it is not possible to regard such a television station as a local broadcaster. Even this change only demonstrates the need for more research and more discussion on the area of local broadcasting in Turkey.

On the other hand, in all of these scales, television is the media channel that has the highest access rate: it reaches more than 98% of those living in Turkey.The daily average spent watching television is 3 hours, going up to 7 hours for stay at housewifes. Cable TV broadcasting services are available in 21 cities, with approximately 1 million 275 thousand subscribers. Türksat A.Ş, the cable company that broadcasts public and private television enterprises, belongs to the state and is a monopoly. The company provides both infrastructure and broadcasting services; hence it also determines the channels that can broadcast on cable. A new draft regulation on the privatization of this service has been submitted to the public by RTÜK. The effective date of the regulation is as yet unknown.

Additionally, there are also two digital broadcasting platforms in the television broadcasting sector, one belonging to the Çukurova Group (Digiturk), and the other to the Doğan Group (D-Smart). DIGITURK has approximately 2 million 200 thousand subscribers, while D-Smart has 1 million 200 thousand subscribers. »

 Print & broadcast medias : (p.30-31)

« The media sector in Turkey is divided into aggregations. The biggest eight of the 15 media groups are Albayrak, Doğan, Çukurova,Ciner, Çalık, Feza, Doğuş and İhlas Groups. All major private television and radio stations, newspapers and periodicals belong to these groups. The Doğan Media Group and Merkez Group also have a monopoly over the distribution of the print media through Yay-Sat and MDP, respectively.

Established in 1980, Doğan Media Group is the largest media holding company in Turkey. The group has eight dailies: Hürriyet, Milliyet, Radikal, Posta, Vatan, Fanatik, Referans and Hürriyet Daily News. Hürriyet and Milliyet have a nationalist and statist position while Radikal has a social-democrat point of view. Posta is a tabloid newspaper and Referans was a financial newspaper that has recently been merged with Radikal. Doğan Media Group also owns the national TV channels Kanal D, Star and CNN Turk and radio channels Radio D, Slow Turk Radio and Radio Moda. The group also owns a digital platform called D-Smart, which includes many thematic and pay-per-view channels. Moreover, the group provides access for all TV channels on Türksat satellite. It has a stake in the cinema and advertising industries through D Productions. Channel Romania D is another investment of the group in Romania. The group also includes Doğan Burda Rizzoli (DBR), a joint venture with the German publishing house Burda and the Italian media corporation Rizzoli. Doğan runs its own news agency, DHA, publishing house, Doğan Kitap, and merchandising company, D&R. […]

Doğuş Media Group was founded in 1999. Its first channel was the news channel, NTV. In addition, the group collaborates with international brands such as CNBC, NBA, Billboard, Virgin, and National Geographic.

The Albayrak Group was established in 1952. Until 1982, it was active only in the construction sector. The group began publishing the daily Yeni Şafak in 1995. Having liberal and left-wing columnists who do not belong to the Islamic community the paper has emerged from, Yeni Şafak “offers a relatively broader perspective especially about the controversial issues.” Since 2007 it has been running TVNET, a news channel.

Ciner Holding was an active company in the automotive and energy sectors under the name of Park Holding. In 2002, the company entered the media sector. In September 2007 Ciner Publishing Holding was founded; it currently owns Habertürk.com, Habertürk Radyo, Habertürk TV, Ajans Habertürk and Gazete Habertürk. The company holds international TV and radio channels such as Bloomberg TV and Bloomberg HT Radyo. The Turkish language editions of Marie Claire and Maison, belong to Ciner Group as does the recently closed Newsweek, FHM, Food and Travel, GEO, and Mother and Baby.

Çukurova Holding currently publishes the Akşam, Güneş, Tercüman newspapers and Alem magazine and owns the Show and Sky Turk TV stations. Turkcell, the leader in the GSM industry, as well as Digiturk, which broadcasts the national football league matches, also belong to this group.

The Turkuvaz Group belongs to Çalık Holding. In December 2007 the group bought the Merkez Medya Group from Ciner Holding and became the proprietors of the newspapers Yeni Asır (Izmir), Sabah, Takvim, Günaydın and Pas Fotomac, the weeklies Bebeğim ve Biz, Sinema, Home Art, Yeni Aktuel and Gobal Enerji, as well as the television station ATV. […] »

« Turkey’s Image in the Arab World »written by Carnegie Middle East Center Director Paul Salem draws upon the survey to look at how Turkey is and should be responding to recent events in the region.

(p.6-7)
« […]Questions 20 and 21 indicate the influence of soft power. A full 78% of respondents in the Arab world and Iran report that they have watched Turkish soap operas. Indeed these TV programs have taken the region by storm, with Turkish TV stars becoming pop idols among young and old, men and women. The impact of watching hours of these Turkish soap operas cannot be underestimated as they have the effect of creating attachment, understanding, and affection for Turkish identity, culture, and values among wide regional publics. Like Egyptian TV and cinema created a prominent cultural place for Egypt in previous decades, Turkish television has made similar inroads in Arab (and Iranian) popular culture. This has been complemented by a wave of tourism to Turkey in which Arabs and Iranians from various classes and walks of life have visited Turkey and become familiar and attached to its towns and cities, history and monuments, culture and people. Turkey is identified in the survey as the most popular tourist destination (35% put it as their first choice; followed by 19% for Saudi Arabia; and 13% for Lebanon.)[…] »

« Challenges to Turkey’s Soft Power in the Middle East »written by the Dean of Graduate School of Sciences in METU Meliha Benli Altunışık questions how Turkey exercises its soft power in the Middle East, an issue that has become all the more relevant as a result of the Arab Spring.

Turkey’s attractiveness : (p.2)
 » […] Finally, in recent years Turkey has become a source of attraction because of its cultural products. Since 2004 Turkish TV series have become quite popular in the Arab world. 78 percent of the respondents said yes to the question of whether they have ever watched a Turkish TV series in the TESEV poll. The popularity of these series has led to an increase in the numbers of visitors to Turkey from the Arab countries. The increase in human-tohuman interaction has facilitated learning from each other and started to shape images of the “other” in more positive ways.[…] »

 

« Content is the king: Hürriyet’s Sabancı » – Hürriyet Daily News

Hürriyet chairwoman Vuslat Doğan Sabancı (C) speaks during a summit in Bursa. DHA photo. Source : Hürriyet

« The leading element in tomorrow’s online media will be content, said Vuslat Doğan Sabancı, chairwoman of Hürriyet newspaper, at the 1st Uludağ Economy Summit in the northwestern province of Bursa over the weekend.

“Publishing content online is relatively easy and open to everyone, but the cost of maintaining permanence is high,” Sabancı said during a panel session on March 17. A good brand, unique content and the technology pave the way for successful media, Sabancı said. “The future of media lies on the Internet; however, the road to that future is full of traps, because remaining permanent in online media is very difficult.”

Doğan Holding, the parent company of Hürriyet, is active in internet media across nine countries in the region. Emphasizing the importance of having a successful brand and unique idea, as well the ability to promote the content in order to have a long-lasting place in the international media arena, Sabancı said the walls between media such as radio, newspapers, magazines and TV have vanished in recent years. “Today, Hürriyet reaches 2 million people with its print versions and an additional 2.2 million readers through its Web site,” she said, noting that approximately 1.5 million readers follow the daily through social media.

As today’s online media offers the ability to reach wide masses of readers, surpassing the conventional distribution channels, content has regained its importance, according to Sabancı. “Apple and others already do the distribution part; what we need to do is to create unique content. I am saying this clearly: Content is king, and our business is content.”

Excluding media competitors based in the U.K., hurriyet.com.tr, Hürriyet’s online news portal, is the biggest of its kind in Europe in terms of access, Sabancı noted. […] »

Source : Hürriyet Daily News

« TPG, News Corp, Time Warner bid for Turkey’s Çalık media » – Today’s Zaman

Photo : Cihan. Source : Today's Zaman

« TPG Capital, News Corp and Time Warner have placed bids for the media assets of Turkey’s Çalık Holding, which also has interests in energy and finance, three sources close to the matter told Reuters on Monday.

« TPG, (News Corp’s Rupert) Murdoch and Time Warner placed bids. I know TPG is very aggressive, » said a source close to the deal, adding the submitted bids were around $1 billion, near the asking price.

He said the sale process could be completed in February.

Çalık bought ATV-Sabah for $1.1 billion in 2007 from the Savings, Deposits and Insurance Fund (TMSF). Çalık took on $750 million of bank debt in April 2008 to finance that acquisition. »

Source : Today’s Zaman

« Cukurova in talks to sell Show TV stake » – Sabah

« Turkey’s Cukurova Holding is in talks with two U.S. private equity firms to sell as much as 49 percent of its television channel Show TV to finance tax debts, a source close to the matter told Reuters.

Cukurova, which controls the country’s biggest mobile network Turkcell, is talking to KKR and Texas Pacific Group, the source said.

« Cukurova Group wants to keep a 51 percent stake, » he said.

Show TV is valued at at least $800 million and the valuation could easily rise above $1 billion based on a multiple of 12 times earnings, the source said.

Turkcell recently said it received orders from tax offices for the sequestration of the Turkcell assets of Cukurova for 1.68 billion lira ($1.06 billion) due to tax debts.

The source said Cukurova’s other units including Digiturk and Genel Enerji may be subject to stake sales to finance the tax debts. »

Source : Sabah