Apr 19 2019

Turkish presidency takes control of national Anadolu Agency

Management of Turkey’s state-run Anadolu Agency has been transferred to the Presidency’s Directorate of Communications, the Turkish government’s official gazette announced on Friday.

The decree signed by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan means power to audit the national news agency, appoint administrators and manage its activities, budget, and human resources will now lie with the presidency’s communications directorate.

The latest move is likely to make Fahrettin Altun, the Presidency Communications Director, one of the most influential figures at the agency.

An academic known for his work at government friendly think tank SETA and regular columns for pro-government newspapers, Altun was named as the communications director last July.

Altun has spoken of his desire to encourage a “native and national” culture in Turkey in line with the Justice and Development Party (AKP)’s vision of Turkish nationalism and free from the influence of “Westernist ideologies”.

The Presidency Directorate of Communications also oversees Turkey’s national broadcaster, TRT, and the media regulatory body, the Radio and Television Supreme Council.

Anadolu Agency is the main source for results on election nights in Turkey, a status that led to controversy on the night of the March 31 local elections when the agency abruptly stopped updating results as the opposition candidate was poised to take the lead in Istanbul.

The next morning the Supreme Election Council chairman told reporters Anadolu Agency had not received data on the count from the council, raising suspicions that it received its data directly from AKP officials at polling stations.