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CHP takes sale of Doğan media to Turkish Competition Authority

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Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) has filed a complaint with the Turkish Competition Authority regarding the recent sale of the Doğan Media Group to the Demirören Group.

Last month the Doğan Media Group, the largest media company in Turkey, which has been harshly criticized for acting as a mouthpiece of the Turkish government over the last few years, was sold to the Demirören Group, owned by businessman Erdoğan Demirören.

CHP deputy Mahmut Tanal filed the complaint at the Turkish Competition Authority on Wednesday, claiming that the sale of Doğan Media to Demirören will lead to monopolization and cartelization in the Turkish media.

Tanal said the sale of the Doğan Media Group is aimed turning down the volume of the opposition in Turkey, to say nothing of silencing it, adding that Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) aims to control the media in order not to risk a defeat in the 2019 elections and thus prolong its stay in power.

Turkey will hold local elections, presidential elections and a general election in 2019.

The CHP deputy said the 167th article of Turkey’s constitution requires the state to take the necessary measures to prevent monopolization and cartelization in the markets, claiming that the sale of the Doğan Media Group to the Demirören Group contravenes the constitution.

Doğan had sold the Milliyet and Vatan dailies to Demirören in 2001. These newspapers have a strongly pro-government editorial policy.

With the latest sale, Demirören assumed the ownership of a number of 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 handing-over ceremony of the Doğan media outlets took place on Monday at the headquarters of the Hürriyet daily in İstanbul.

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 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 TL6.8 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.

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