Turkish independent media face financial troubles – report

Turkish news websites are facing financial challenges as they seek to gain a foothold in the country’s competitive media business, according to Reuters Digital News Report 2017.

Online websites, blogs and social media have emerged as the centre of opposition in Turkey in the wake of the failed coup in July 2016, which saw the introduction of emergency powers and a crackdown by the government on dissent, said the report’s author; Servet Yanatma, a visiting fellow at the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at the University of Oxford.

“In such a political atmosphere, they (new media) largely focus on pursuing free journalism and not on business models,” Yanatma said. “This era can be seen as a transition period, given that there is not a stable legal environment for media investment, as it only requires an order from a judge for a website to be blocked and closed entirely.

“It seems that it will take time for significant online investment, particularly from big companies and international players.”

Online subscription seems generally to be the best business model, but there is major doubt about whether it can work in Turkey, where paying for online news is extremely rare, Yanatma said. Efforts so far have yet to be successful, he said.

“There is little prospect for anti-government publications to make money, as it is so easy for the authorities to block websites or find other ways to cut off funding or readership,” he said.

Turkey introduced new legal measures this year requiring news websites to apply for a license from the television and radio watchdog in order to operate legally. The measure was criticised by opposition figures as a further step by the government to control free expression.

Turkish police and judges have locked up scores of journalists since the failed coup, accusing them of supporting terrorism. Pro-government businessmen own Turkish newspapers and television stations that account for approximately 90 percent of total readers and viewers.