Since a recent AKP ruling, Turkish media has been under tough restrictions, and the political and legal restraints on news-reporting have become visible. The state has influenced, altered facts, and scripted journalistic practices in Turkey, as well as the directive of media owners.
The government of Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the AKP, has censored the media through coercion and force and has ensured media owners act in line with the AKP discourse. This was done with the sole purpose of disseminating the values of the Erdogan government and silencing views that were critical of its policies. Efforts to silence the media have particularly gotten worse since Erdogan’s second election victory in 2007. Despite its victory speech in 2007, and assurances that freedom of speech would be protected, the AKP administration has demonstrated otherwise.
Since 2012, more than a hundred journalists have been arrested and are waiting for trial, as they are accused of being critical of the Erdogan administration. As such, the AKP government has done all in its power to interfere with print and broadcast media through pressure on its owners, arresting journalists, and placing internet bans.
According to the 2017 World Press Independent Index, Turkey is ranked 155 out of 180 countries. Erdogan’s administration has been justifying the arrests of hundreds of journalists by referencing the 2016 failed coup attempt as causation for detention. But in many cases, this has been a method used to arrest and silence critical publications and negative commentaries regarding the Erdogan regime.
Moreover, in March 2018, Turkish authorities took control of Ozgurlukcu Demokrasi, the last independent Kurdish newspaper in Istanbul, and arrested 12 print workers and staff. A further 15 Ozgurlukcu Demokrasi staff were taken into custody after their homes were searched. According to a statement published by Reporters Without Borders’ website, Ozgurlukcu Demokrasi was forced to cease publications due to its critical coverage of the Afrin operation, which was highly supported by Erdogan.
Also, in March, the sale of Turkey’s largest media group, Dogan Media Company, to an AKP ally has raised many concerns for media pluralism in Turkey. This indicates that the popular news outlets and daily newspaper circulation, such as the Hurriyet, will be controlled by Demiroren Holdings, who happens to have close ties with Erdogan. The sale of Dogan Media Company is further proof of the end of independent journalism in Turkey.
With this arrangement, the government will have complete control over the media and punish all of those who are critical of its policies. This will benefit the AKP administration as the elections will be taking place in 2019. As it is today, only a handful of small local newspapers will be able to publish articles critical of the government.