Closing the Turkish media space: Ankara’s steps towards a monopoly over information
In recent days, official Ankara has made a number of significant decisions related to the media and information space of the country, which have gone unnoticed in the shadow of far bigger regional events, primarily, the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
Turkey has officially stopped funding minority media – and, primarily Armenian, Greek and Israeli news houses have been hit. At the same time, groups of tycoons among whom is the son-in-law of Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan have started buying smaller media.
Simultaneously with these processes, the Turkish telecommunications agency was given the right to independently block access to internet sites without court approval.
Background of the events
All these steps are attempts by official Ankara to establish absolute dominance in the media space and if not eliminate, then at least significantly limit all those narratives that are not in line with the rhetoric of the current authorities.
There are many reasons for this decision – on the one hand, Erdogan found himself in the midst of a powerful media attack coordinated from the West during the election campaign this year, which was aimed at providing open support to his opponent.
Therefore, ensuring control over the media for Erdogan certainly represents a way to consolidate power and reduce the risk of hybrid attacks that could otherwise occur.
But, it is very likely that this is not the only reason for such radical steps – as recently as yesterday, Turkish journalist and dissident Jihan Metin published documents confirming that while Erdogan calls Israel a terrorist state and promises to bring the authorities of Tel Aviv before the International Criminal Court, his close friends continue to do lucrative business in Israel.
The emergence and spread of such narratives would undoubtedly be a blow to the image of Erdogan as a protector of Muslims and an uncompromising opponent of Zionism.
Misinformation and propaganda
The Turkish media space is undergoing a major transformation that aims to create a monopoly over information and suppress any dissenting voices. This is a clear sign of Erdogan’s authoritarian tendencies and his desire to control the public opinion in his favor.
The consequences of this transformation could be far-reaching, not only for the Turkish society and democracy, but also for the regional and international relations.
The lack of independent and reliable sources of information could lead to misinformation, propaganda, and polarization, which could further fuel tensions and conflicts in the Middle East and beyond.