Turkish media group sale may have figured in snap election decision – FT

The sale of the last remaining Turkish media conglomerate not under the control of allies of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to an Erdoğan-supporting businessman may have been a factor into the decision to call an early election, the Financial Times said.

The election was called within a month of the state-bank funded sale of Doğan Media, which owns media including newspaper Hürriyet and broadcaster CNNTürk, to Erdoğan Demirören for $916 million, it said, leaving more than 90 percent of the country’s media in Erdoğan’s allies’ hands.

“The sale of the group to a businessman with close ties to the president reduces the risk of surprises ahead of next month’s elections, according to media insiders,” the Financial Times said.

“Derya Sazak, who has worked as a journalist under both Messrs Doğan and Demirören, went as far as to describe the sale as factoring in Mr. Erdoğan’s plans for early elections,” the newspaper said.

Most importantly, it has allowed Erdoğan to highlight the opposition figures he wants to be compared to.

“Mr. Erdoğan’s most important attribute is his ability to organise himself an opposition,” Good Party head and presidential candidate Meral Akşener told a radio programme on Thursday.

“He is able to (use his control over the media) to select his own rivals … And I don’t fit with his ideas on the subject of a rival.”

“There is no doubt that people do not have access to balanced and critical independent journalism,” Caroline Stockford, Turkey advocacy co-ordinator at the International Press Institute was quoted as saying.

“But, the strength and the resistance of these journalists means they will find a way of getting the news to the people.”