In the past, the media landscape in Turkey was more pluralistic and lively, with newspapers and TV channels representing different views and conducting investigations. Since 2015, less and less space has been left for this plurality of views. Companies close to the ruling AKP (Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi – Party for Justice and Development) have taken control of more independent outlets, such as the Dogan holding company (including Hürriyet – Turkey’s largest daily newspaper, CNN Türk and the Dogan News Agency). According to Reporters Without Borders, this represents a major shift in the media landscape, because independent and sometimes critical newspapers such as Cumhuriyet have a rather small reach. Another independent outlet, of pro-Kurdish orientation, Özgürlükçü Demokrasi, has been bought by a company close to the government, sparking concerns from the Committee to Protect Journalists.
In addition, a new law was passed on 21 March 2018 to increase state control over the internet. In recent years, activists have developed their activities on the internet, as an alternative to the more tightly controlled traditional media landscape. For example, the Directorate for Religious Affairs, the Diyanet, publicly attacked the show of sex-cult leader, Adnan Oktar, who mixes theological discussions with belly-dancing women. After banning Wikipedia on the grounds of national security protection, Oktar’s case has been used to further tighten control over the internet. According to the law, the already powerful Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTÜK) will be tasked with allocating licences for online broadcasting. The OSCE Representative for Freedom of the Media pointed at the possible impact on freedom of expression, and regretted that his comments have been ignored by the Turkish government. The new law will affect all service providers, be they video-on-demand services, social networks or blogs. In January 2018, 300 people were detained because they criticised the Turkish military operation in Afrin, Syria. In April 2018, the government launched investigations into 242 people on account of government-critical publications on their social media accounts.