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European Parliament Priorities for Turkey Following the Elections of the 12th of June 2012: the Need for “Uzlaşma”

The owners of the biggest media groups are also involved as investors and shareholders in different sectors of the economy, such as health, education, construction, and telecommunication. Although all the media groups may have conflicting economic interests as well as different ideological stands and political positions, they share the same “mindset” in upholding the “interests of the state” and “national security” above democracy, human rights and media freedom. The media outlets, which are close to the political circles benefit from the financial gains and become tools of partisanship. The deals, tenders and mergers are opaque as there is no regulation to guarantee the financial transparency, which causes the ownership of media in the country to come to a deadlock. In the last decade, the public broadcaster, TRT, became more visually appealing because of digitalization, yet, there has been little improvement in content. TRT, in theory, has a mission, according to its charter, to commit to impartial broadcasting and to be independent of any political party. However, TRT management’s approach has been contrary to the constitutional principle of autonomy and neutrality. Prof. Haluk Şahin, an academic and a well-known TV journalist, expressed his opinions longing for the good old days of TRT during Cem Duna’s tenure. As a former producer of TRT at that period, he says “for independence, you need independent-minded journalists running TRT, and not a bunch of hand-picked bureaucrats and technocrats trying to please the AKP government.”6 According to TESEV (Turkish Economic and Social Studies Foundation) 2011 Report, however, despite TRT’s questionable impartiality, controversial issues such as Cyprus, relations with Armenia, the Kurdish question and the army’s intervention into politics are being debated on state television and radio, contrary to the past experiences.7 In order to appeal to culturally diverse and different groups of the society, several steps have recently been taken as part of the EU reform efforts to give cultural rights to minorities. TRT 6 (Şeş) began to broadcast in Kurdish starting January 2009. 6. Interview with Prof. Haluk Şahin at Istanbul Bilgi University, December 24, 2010. 7. Communicating Democracy-Democratizing Communication, Media in Turkey: Legislation, Policies, Actors. TESEV Report by Esra Elmaz, Dilek Kuban, TESEV Publications, June, 2011, p. 97.

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ASLI TUNÇ

Turkey on the European Doorstep  

A Publication based on the International Conference organised at the European Parliament/Brussels by Dr. ELENI THEOCHAROUS, Member of the Eu...

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