Mar 23 2018

Turkish media mogul had to choose between jail and selling up - journalist

Turkish media mogul Aydın Doğan had to choose between jail and selling his giant Doğan Media Group to the pro-government Demirören Holding, journalist Ayşenur Arslan of channel Tele1 told Germany-based Turkish media outlet Özgürüz.

“He had to do it,” she said. “It had got to the point where if he didn’t go, if he didn’t sell, if he didn’t withdraw from the media, his going to prison in the Feb. 28 case was on the cards.”

In the aftermath of the Feb. 28, 1997, so-called “postmodern coup”, Doğan’s media assets were seen as sympathetic to the military that ousted the Islamist predecessor of the current ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) from government.

The Doğan group peaked in 2002 with control of more than half the Turkish media audience, but has been battling a hostile AKP government that came to power that year ever since.

“For 20 or so days since Feb. 28 we have read and listened to (threats towards Doğan) continuously, in what pro-government columnists were writing and what was being said,” Arslan said. “They used Feb. 28 as a stick, and Aydın Doğan got the message.”

“Kanal D is one of Turkey’s five or six main channels, an incredibly big channel. CNN Türk, Hürriyet – the group’s flagships. Posta is another of the newspapers that is among the highest-selling in the media. D-Smart (satellite service), TV2, Dream TV, Yay-Sat distribution company. For all of these to be sold for $890 million shows that Aydın Doğan was forced to choose ‘should I die in prison or should I be grateful for the money and go away?’”

Increasing his control of the Turkish media to around 90 percent would help Erdoğan in the 2019 elections, Arslan said, and there was little chance that the competition commission would object to the sale.

“In a system that does not listen to constitutional court decisions, will they listen to the competition commission decisions? Will the competition commission dare to talk about this? I very much doubt it,” she said.