Role reversal in Turkey

Sunday, September 13, 2009
The Doğan (pronounced "Doe-on") Media Group, which is the largest media group in Turkey (controlling Hüriyet, Milliyet, the Turkish Daily News, CNN-Türk, and a number of other media outlets) has been hit with a $2.5 billion tax bill. This penalty could very well put the company out of business, and the Turkey-watching punditry is wondering what this event could mean for freedom of the press in Turkey.

Concern regarding the government's motives in assessing the media company stems from the very public personal animosity that has been brewing for over a year between Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erd
oğan and Doğan Group owner and political power-broker Aydin Doğan.  While the Doğan-controlled media actually used to be rather cozy with the AK Party government, this all changed in late 2008. Many people think that this is because of Doğan media outlets aggressively covering the Deniz Feneri corruption scandal, which implicated many people in the AK Party. (In my personal opinion, this reporting was clearly an important step in the feud but who knows what actually kicked it off--I'm sure there's plenty about the AK Party-Doğan Group relationship that we know nothing about).