Europe

Turkey profile - Media

  • 18 March 2016
  • From the section Europe
Newspaper stand in Turkey Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The military, Kurds and political Islam are sensitive topics for journalists

Turkey's airwaves are lively, with some 300 private TV stations - more than a dozen of them with national coverage - and more than 1,000 private radio stations competing with the state broadcaster, TRT. Television is by far the most influential news medium.

Powerful businesses operate press and broadcasting outlets; they include the Dogan group, the leading media conglomerate.

For journalists, the military, Kurds and political Islam are highly-sensitive topics, coverage of which can lead to arrest and prosecution. It is common for radio and TV stations to have their broadcasts suspended for airing sensitive material.

Some of the most repressive sanctions have been lifted as part of reforms intended to pave the way for EU entry. But it remains a crime to insult the Turkish nation.

In 2012, the US-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) noted that Turkey had more journalists in prison than any other country. CPJ said that dozens of Kurdish reporters were being held on terrorism-related charges, while other detained journalists were accused of plotting against the Islamist-leaning government.

By the end of 2015, CPJ reported that while Turkey had been overtaken by even greater offenders such as China, Egypt, Iran and Eritrea, it was still one of the worst jailers of journalists worldwide.

Media watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has accused the official media regulator of "censoring at will those media it doesn't like". Turkey was ranked 149th out of 180 countries in RSF's World Press Freedom Index for 2015.

After the Turkish authorities took direct control of the biggest opposition paper, Zaman, in March 2016, RSF said the operation showed that President Erdogan was moving "from authoritarianism to all-out despotism".

The Dogan media group, which owns the daily Hurriyet and part-owns CNN Turk TV, has also come under intense political pressure.

TRT has introduced broadcasts in Kurdish, banned for many years, under reforms intended to meet EU criteria on minorities. Its Kurdish channel was known as TRT 6 from 2009 to 2015, when its name was changed to TRT Kurdi. Some overseas-based Kurdish TVs broadcast via satellite.

Istanbul is the media capital, hosting the main press outlets. The city is home to some 40 major dailies with nationwide reach and 30 provincial publications.

Around 46 million Turks were online by late 2015 (Internetworldstats) - a figure that represents almost 60% of the population. Websites are subject to blocking. These have included YouTube, which was banned over videos deemed to be insulting to the founder of modern Turkey, Kemal Ataturk. However, circumvention techniques are widely used. Facebook attracted more than 32 million users in 2014.

The number of Twitter users rose to 11 million after the Gezi Park protests in June 2013.

The press

Television

Radio

  • Turkish Radio and Television (TRT) - state broadcaster, services include cultural/educational network TRT 1, popular music network TRT 3 and Turkish folk/classical music station TRT 4
  • Kral FM - popular private network
  • Super FM - popular private network

Internet