One day after news broke about the sale of Turkey’s largest media group, the Doğan Media Group, to the Demirören Group, businessman and honorary president of the Doğan Media Group, Aydın Doğan, said he himself made the decision to sell his media group.
The t24 news website reported on Wednesday that Doğan and the Demirören group, owned by businessman Erdoğan Demirören, had reached an agreement about the sale of the Doğan Media Group to Demirören.
In a written statement on Thursday, Aydın Doğan said: “I have left the age of 80 behind. At this point today, I have decided of my own accord to end my profession as a publisher.”
Doğan said he had worked in the media sector for 40 years and that his media group had managed to become one of the most respected and important media organizations in Europe.
“As a publisher, I have attributed great importance to independent and objective journalism by remaining loyal to the universal principles of journalism. I have paid attention to protecting our state’s interests and our nation’s rights,” Doğan said in his statement.
The businessman said a preliminary sales protocol was signed with the Demirören Group on the morning of March 22 and that work has been initiated to complete the necessary transactions for the transfer.
Doğan had sold the Milliyet and Vatan dailies to Demirören in 2001.
The Doğan Media Group currently owns media outlets including Kanal D, CNN Türk, Tv2, Dream TV, Dream Türk, Hürriyet, Posta, Fanatik, Hürriyet Daily News, TME, Doğan Burda Dergi, Doğan Egmont, Doğan Kitap and Dergi Pazarlama ve Planlama (DPP).
The Doğan Media Group, which has played an influential role in the recent history of the Turkish Republic by shaping the nation’s agenda and sometimes siding with the Turkish military against democratically elected governments, has in past years received heavy criticism for bowing to pressure from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and endorsing its anti-democratic policies out of fear of being taken over by the AKP government.
Since the AKP came to power in 2002, the Doğan Media Group has faced threats and pressure from the government, with former Prime Minister and now President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan targeting the media group in public on many occasions.
In 2009, the Finance Ministry’s tax authority fined firms controlled by the Doğan Group TL 6.8 billion (around $4.5 billion) for unpaid taxes. The record tax fine was seen at the time as politically motivated and raised media freedom concerns in the country.
Erdoğan publicly criticized Aydın Doğan in 2009 and called on his party’s supporters to refrain from buying his group’s newspapers.
Doğan claimed it faced the unprecedented tax penalties because of its newspapers and television stations’ critical coverage of the government in 2008, particularly over corruption allegations.
The AKP government has taken over or closed down hundreds of media outlets in the country including Turkey’s best-selling newspaper, Zaman, and has jailed around 200 journalists due to their critical views.