chapter  21
14 Pages

The political economy of the media and its impact on freedom of expression in Turkey


Freedom of expression and freedom of the media have always been caught between political and legal pressures and structural problems. Even it is described as a ‘no-man’s land’ located somewhere between south-eastern Europe and the Middle East’ (Christensen 2007: 180) or treated as idiosyncratic by the experiences inside and outside the Turkey (as cited in Christensen 2011: 182), the media structure of Turkey is similar more to that of the Mediterranean or Polarized Pluralist Model of Hallin and Mancini even though it is not a part of their research. As in many other Mediterranean countries, the media in Turkey developed as a political institution more than a market, and it has been used by various actors as tools to intervene in the political area (Hallin and Mancini 2004: 90-113). From the outset, the suppression of the state has been well documented

(Christensen, 2007: 195); however, the clientelist relationship which creates a climate of self-censorship, unqualified content and inconvenient working conditions in the journalistic profession still need to be discussed. This chapter analyzes the freedom of expression and freedom of media

within the political, structural and legal issues in Turkey. To understand the main concerns about the media, first a brief historical perspective will be given. It is possible to read the history of media at the same time through the relationship between the state and the media owners. Hence, the political pressures on the media, censorship, and self-censorship are evaluated from within a political economic perspective in the following chapter. The jailed journalists and coverage of sensitive topics like the Kurdish issue are not only the current concerns in Turkey and outside of Turkey, as seen in the European Commission (2012) Turkey 2012 Progress Report, they also have attracted the international public opinion’s attention. Therefore, the situations of the jailed journalists, the reasons for the detentions, and the risks of covering sensitive issues are discussed in part five. Turkey is still dealing with the ECtHR cases on the violation of the freedom of expression and freedom of media, despite the reforms packages adopted during the EU integration process. The improvements that

emerged thanks to the integration process and the reasons for the ECtHR cases against Turkey are examined in the last part.