Erdogan ally to take over Turkey's largest media holding

Turkish businessman with close ties to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to buy Turkey's largest media holding.

Elad Benari ,

Recep Tayyip Erdogan
Recep Tayyip Erdogan

A top Turkish businessman with close ties to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is to buy Turkey's largest media holding, a statement said Thursday, according to the AFP news agency.

Dogan Holding said in a statement that talks had begun on the sale of Dogan Media Group to the Demiroren Group of magnate Erdogan Demiroren for around $1 billion (810 million euros).

Dogan Media Group comprises some of Turkey's most prestigious media names, including the Hurriyet daily newspaper, the Fanatik sports daily, the CNN-Turk rolling news service and the Kanal-D channel.

CNN-Turk and Hurriyet had been regarded as holding a relatively independent editorial line in recent years, as the space for voices critical of Erdogan shrunk.

However, the Demiroren Holding, which has interests in energy, property and construction, is seen as more friendly to Erdogan, noted AFP.

The takeover plan, first reported by the T24 website on Wednesday, raised fears among journalists there would be little space left to challenge the president ahead of 2019 elections.

A senior Dogan Media Group journalist expressed alarm over the move, adding it was part of a trend in Turkey to centralize media control.

"It is an indication of a lack of pluralism, zero tolerance to dissent, and a rock bottom for freedom of expression in Turkey," the staffer, who asked not be named, told AFP.

"With this acquisition, around 90 percent of Turkish media is now largely under government control."

Since taking office, Erdogan has steered Turkey from being largely secular to being ever increasingly Islamist.

Turkey has also increasingly cracked down on the press, on social media by shuttering Twitter and Facebook at several junctures, and even cracking down on criticism of its leader.

A crackdown on dissent has increased since a failed coup in July of 2016. Staff at the opposition Cumhuriyet newspaper are among tens of thousands of people who have been detained, suspended or sacked during that time.

Earlier this month, a Turkish court sentenced 25 journalists to jail for allegedly aiding the network that Turkey accuses of orchestrating the failed coup in 2016.