The campaign is not being reflected in the media
I have previously written about how the Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) local branches are not mobilized for the electoral campaign of their joint presidential candidate, Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu.
Gürsel Tekin, the general secretary of the CHP, called me to say they are conducting extensive work for the campaign and are running an active campaign all across Turkey. “You cannot see this because the media does not cover any of these activities,” he said.
Later on, I received an email from a member of Antalya’s election commission for the presidency, a CHP supporter, Feridun Baloğlu. “It’s not surprising that you have not seen it in the news. The CHP team is on the streets everywhere, but we are being shown neither on TV nor in the newspapers,” he said.
Baloğlu also attached a file of all the activities they have taken part in, in Antalya, Burdur and Isparta.
Yes, by the looks of it, it seems like there is a serious campaign ongoing.
Due to my job, I have to look through all of the newspapers every day, while all the news channels are always turned on in my room. I have to say that the CHP officials are right. The media really does not and cannot reflect any of these meetings.
The Justice and Development Party (AKP) administration has formed a very strong media network loyal to it. It controls an important part of the media via the business people who are driven to buy TV stations and newspapers. When the rest of the media tries to give candidates equal time and space based on concerns about remaining neutral, the result is a tremendous imbalance.
The private channels that support the current government, as well as all of state broadcaster TRT’s stations publish and broadcast all of Erdoğan’s speeches live. As if this is not enough, they continuously repeat these speeches throughout the day.
İhsanoğlu and Selahattin Demirtaş are barely ever on TV and are barely seen in the newspapers either.
This is the truth. But it is also possible to win over this truth.
We can push the limits of social media. This could be a solution. Those who don’t take an active part in the campaign can use their social media accounts to put some input into the campaign. In this way we could overcome this unfairness.
Using state means to create a loyal media
The AKP used state means to the utmost while creating this vast media power. Unprofitable media outlets were bought by businessmen close to the AKP. The daily cash requirements of all these media outlets, which were all bankrupt, were provided by state banks.
I don’t know if you recall. A telephone conversation was tapped between a director of a newspaper close to the government and an official of Halkbank as part of the Dec. 17 and Dec. 25 corruption investigations.
In that conversation, the media figure told the head of Halkbank, “I can’t pay the wages; send me $2 million.” When the general director of Halkbank, in whose house was found shoeboxes full of millions of dollars, replied “This is a company open to the public; I can’t make a cash transfer that I cannot explain,” the media person told him, “Don’t worry, I’ll send you a receipt of an advertisement.”
In fact, a recent report of media company Nielsen shows how a great deal of money was funneled out of public companies in Turkey via advertisement receipts.
Public companies and institutions like Emlak Konut, Halkbank and Vakıfbank gave advertisements to Sabah, a daily with one third the circulation of daily Zaman, which were worth 22 times more than Zaman.
Sabah ranks top in the advertisement revenue given by public institutions in the first six months of the year. Star, with a circulation of 130,000, ranks second, while Milliyet ranks third. Hürriyet, which has a much larger circulation than all three of the above, only ranks fourth.
In the first half of 2014, A Haber was ranked as the top TV channel to publish the advertisements of state companies Çaykur, THY, Vakıfbank, Ziraat, Halkbank and Emlak Konut.
I could continue naming other examples, but let me just say this: In 2013, the total advertisement budget of Ziraat, Vakıfbank and Halkbank was 244 million Turkish Liras. CHP Bursa deputy Sena Kaleli has since tabled a question in Parliament on how this budget was spent. If Deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan answers this question, we will be able to see how pro-government media is fed in an even more concrete way.