A conference titled as, "The Fourth Emerging Power in the
Middle East: Redefining the Turkish Media`s
Role & Future" by Nuri M. ÇOLAKOGLU,
was organized by Light Millennium, a not-for-
profit Organization in tandem with the Stevens
Institude of Technology in Hoboken, New Jersey
on April 2, 2004.
Being an expert in both national and international media for
almost forty years, Çolakoglu gave a
detailed speech enlightening the audience about
the recent developments in Turkey and the role,
future and significance of Turkish Media in
the Middle East.
Prof. Edward FOSTER >>>
Today, I will be speaking about the recent developments in Turkey
starting with the short history of Turkey to put the
things in a perspective. It might be a long introduction
for those Turks among the audience who already know
what I will be talking about, so I will try to do
that as quickly as possible. Then, I will try to place
the Turkish Media where it is in all of these developments;
and how the Turkish media plays an instrumental role
in the changes that are about to be brought about
in the region around Turkey.
About 10 years ago when I was assigned the task of
to promoting Turkey together with five advertisement
agencies, we started looking for and tried to find
something catchy to sell Turkey. Apparently, the best
idea we could come up with was a slogan which went
as "Turkey isn't the center of the world, but
it just happens to be there". Because if you
take a map of the world and draw a line from the American
Pacific Coast to Japan, and then connect the North
Pole to the South Pole -the lines cross over Turkey.That
was our starting point. Located at the crossroads
connecting Europe and Asia, East and West, North and
South, that's why probably one of the earliest human
urban settlements dating BC 6000 happens to be there
too. Also, it has been crisscrossed by migrating or
invading people coming from east or west. They left
very important traces and contributed to the civilization
that developed in the region.
with a population around 70 million, Turkey is a vast
market for anybody in the world. When we talk about
the civilization, the civilization of today has lots
of roots sawn in Turkey. When you take the Hittites,
they were the nation who had signed the very first
written peace agreement with the Egyptians about three
thousand five hundred years ago. Then of course there
is Troy, the root of all the mythology and stories
we had grown up with.
are also Ionian's cities where all the Hellenistic
civilization has its roots and the Lydians were the
inhabitants of Turkey who invented the coins. For
the past two millennia, part of Turkey has served
as the seat of the Roman Empire which was the center
of the Pagan culture. It was the seat of the Eastern
Roman Empire which was the center of the Christian
civilization for nearly ten centuries. Then, for the
remaining past centuries, it was the seat of the Ottoman
Empire and the center of the Islamic culture. And
this of course left enormous traces in what Turkey
is, and where it is going to.
Ottoman Empire went into World War, it lost and disintegrated
leaving all the roots of all the present problems in
the world today.
Ottoman Empire's reform efforts go back to the beginning
of the 19th century and the small steps in westernization.
The recognition of the citizen' rights were among
the very first among the Islamic nations. Also, the
very first constitutional monarchy was accepted after
big pressures from the army and the intellectuals
in 1876. Of course this was a shortly movement and
the age of the reaction and restoration brought back
the repressive regime, but the resistance of the intellectuals
continued mainly through the press as I will mention
in a short while. Thus as a result of all these efforts,
constitutional monarchy was again brought back after
a revolt of intellectuals and military in 1908. Then,
the Ottoman Empire went into the World War. It lost
and disintegrated, leaving all the roots of all the
present problems in the world today. Since 1923, after
the very first war of independence in the nation,
a secular republic has been established. Steps in
modernization and westernization gained momentum.
have been many changes in the alphabet, time and calendar,
and attire. As a result of these developments after
the end of Second World War; a multi party system
was introduced in 1946. But in line with the ups and
downs of the economic crisis and military interventions,
Turkey had a very troublesome travel through history.
it is on its way to accession to Europe. When we look
at the recent developments in the country, Turkey
was severely hit by the economic crisis as the one
in 1994 and even a harder one in the year 2000 and
2001. Thus as result of these severe economic crisis,
Turkey, under the supervision of IMF's very firm fiscal
program, has been taking very drastic majors to cut
government spending, tidy up its economy, liberalize
economy, and reduce the government's role in the economy
to curb embezzlement; and to produce principles of
good governance. As a result of these, the economy
started picking up. This started under the previous
government which introduced this program, but the
newly elected government of 2002 is following the
same program fairly seriously, so the economy is now
getting better under the present AKP government. But
the most important development is the fact the rate
of inflation is dropping to single digits for the
first time since 1960s. Maybe I should remind you
that the youngest person to remember the single digit
inflation in Turkey would be around 55 years old.
Because the last time we had single digit inflation
was in 1968, it was 6,8 and this year we hope to see
that again which is a very major accomplishment and
probably one of the most important achievements in
establishing a stability in Turkey.
in the mean time, we had a series of military coups
and interventions in 1960, 1971, and 1980. This led
to discontinuity and fragmentation in the political
party system. As a result of this, we had a number
of smaller parties which were not very successful
in coping with the crisis and taking necessary measures
against these. These escalating crises culminated
into economic crushes and new military interventions.
So we were sort of living through the mythos of Sisyphus
over and over again watching the same film, and nearly
getting sick and tired of that. And of course all
these military interventions led to the infringement
of basic civil rights and repressive regimes which
led to lots of international criticisms.
we look at the bigger picture, the problem of Turkey
is I believe, we live in a bad neighborhood. Whenever
a gun is fired, Turkey always gets shot first because
since the end of the Cold War when stability around
the world nearly started coming back everything that
happened, happened around Turkey. We had the crisis
in the Balkans, the disintegration of Yugoslavia,
and ensuing wars between the newly found states. We
had the conflict in the Caucasus, the Armenian-Azeri
war, and the problems in Chechnya and Georgia.
course we are acting and living under the shadow of
never ending Middle Eastern conflicts between Israelis,
Palestinians, Iranian-Iraqi War, Gulf War, and the
recent war in Iraq. All these of course take their
toll on the economic and political life in Turkey.
As a result of all these wars and developments in
1960's and 1970's, we had violent clashes between
the left and right factions in Turkey which let 5000
people slain on the streets. In 1970's we had the
agents seeking the Armenian militants who assassinated
larger number of Turkish diplomats and civil servants.
In 1980's, the Kurdish insurgency that broke out cost
35,000 lives and finally brought under control after
their leader was apprehended in Kenya. Then he was
brought to justice, and was given a life sentence.
M. ÇOLAKOGLU with Erich KUNHARD, Dean of the
Stevens Institute of Technology
taking drastic measures as far as changing the constitution
and bringing about more democratically accepted principles.
for the first time Turkey is ruled by a party which
has very strong Islamic connections. In the past,
parties with similar ideologies have always been seen
as a threat to the secular lifestyle of the majority
of the people in Turkey. But the corrupt practices
of the secular parties led to the unexpected the rule
of an Islamic party in Turkey. The party leader Tayyip
Erdogan is underlining the fact that they are not
party, but a democratic conservative party and will
not attempt to bring major changes in the daily life
in Turkey. The government is following a very pro-western
line. It's very much in line with the requests of
Europe and the U.S. But still strong doubts in society
rising from the government's insistence in the continuation
of the theological schools, the access of their alumni
to the universities, and in bringing back the issue
of the headgear called the turban into the agenda.
developments send shivers among the people but more
so within the army, the self appointed guardian of
the secular democratic republic. But the army in Turkey
has never made a move without the backing of the US
and today the US and the European Union are firmly
supporting Mr. Erdogan. The agendas of the European
Union and Mr. Erdogan's AKP seem to coincide:
The Copenhagen Criteria put forward in front
of Turkey and the measures that are taken in line
with that Copenhagen Criteria seem to be fitting Mr.
Erdogan's agenda just as well. Both the US and Europe
would like to see an economically and politically
stable Turkey which can serve as a role model for
the democratization of the greater Middle East. The
EU wants the power of the military curbed and their
watchdog functions to come to an end. AKP is also
trying to curb the powers of the military and the
establishment. In order to meet the Copenhagen criteria
put by the EU as a prerequisite, AKP is taking drastic
measures as far as changing the constitution and bringing
about more democratically accepted principles of the
western European democracies.
under all these developments last week, on March 28,
we had local elections in Turkey. Let me briefly summarize
what has happened: AKP, despite its18 months in power
and taking all these measures and trying to cope with
the Iraqi war and the crisis in Cyprus, increased
is a comparative table that I want to show you. AKP's
vote was 34.3 in November 2002. Today, it has gone
up to 42.1. Its vote was 10 million 800 thousand,
today they managed to get 12 million 800 thousand.
So their vote has increased 2 million and their percentage
has increased nearly 8%. Meanwhile, the main opposition
party CHP (The Republican Party) came down
from 6.1 million votes to 5.3 million, and their percentage
descended from 19.4 to 18.1. And similar developments
have taken place with the two leading center right
parties. ANAP has nearly been erased from the face
of the political world, whereas DYP has consolidated
its place to a certain extent -with some of the votes
it has managed to transfer from ANAP. Whereas
as you can see, all the other parties have lost their
relevance in the Turkish political system including
DEHAP (the party supported by the militant
we go back to the results of the election on March
28, AKP with its 42%, managed to get 7 out
of 12 of the metropolitan municipalities. CHP
only had its hold on to two. MHP got one and
one went to DSP. Similar development seemed
to be taking place in all the provinces and sub-provinces.
So AKP seems to be enjoining a popular support
in Turkey, most probably because of their success
in the economic developments.
this picture, AKP is sticking to a very
tight economic program which leaves no room for populist
policies of the past. However, in the past whenever
there was an election, the governments used to open
the coffers and distribute money to their voters.
Buying votes was the regular practice. We saw that
neither in 2002 nor in 2004. And the government is
making important efforts to solve the 40-year-old
Cyprus problem now being negotiated in Switzerland.
Actually the negotiation has been completed, and the
agreement or the disagreement which concluded these
negotiations will be submitted to a referendum on
the island both on the Turkish and Greek side on the
24th of April. Both Turkish Government and the Turkish
Cypriot government has declared their support for
the final phase of the Annan Plan; whereas
the Greek Cypriots, and the Greek government voices
a discontent with this program.
as a passing remark I should point out that if on
the 24th of April, the Turks ratify the Annan Plan
and the Greeks refuse it, the EU will have
an enormous dilemma in front of them because this
was the formula which they had been pushing forward
before the Cyprus' accession to EU as a full
member on the 1st of May. So Cyprus will become a
full member respite the support of the Turks and the
opposition from Greeks to the Annan Plan. This
is going to be in the agenda of EU in the coming
years, and probably will lead to a further push for
Turkey's full membership to the EU which could
be the only final solution to the Cyprus problem.
on top of that we have the widening of the boundaries
of civil rights liberalizing the freedom of the press
to enable the broadcasting and publishing in the Kurdish
language in an effort to accommodate the Copenhagen
Criteria, despite the resistance of the establishment.
This was a very important development in Turkey. Also,
all these are leading AKP to move further towards
the center; thus, converting it into a conservative
party rather than an Islamic party. By relinquishing
their Islamic references, they are poised to fill
the center right vacated by the traditional ANAP
of Mr. Ozal and DYP of Mr. Demirel.
has always been the media who had been hit the hardest
but that didn't stop the media from fighting back.
this is the summary of the political scene in Turkey.
Now, I would like to concentrate a little on the media
in Turkey. Print media and the newspapers & magazines
were introduced to Turkey nearly at the same time
with the reform movements in the Ottoman Empire. They
served as the importer of the new libertarian ideas
of the 19th century Europe; and when the resistance
rose against the modernization, it was always the
papers which were banned. But publishing continued
abroad and the newspapers published in Paris or in
London were smuggled into the country contributing
to the constitutional movement against the Sultan.
the Republic, the media was the strong supporter of
the new reform movement's effort to enlarge newly
introduced freedoms. And under the repressive regime
of Democrat Party in 1950s, the press was in
the forefront and many papers were banned for supporting
the following military coups however it has always
been the media who had been hit the hardest, but that
didn't stop the media from fighting back, and eventually
contributing to the withdrawal of the military to
media is a careful watcher and critic of the movements
of the ruling party in power, whether or not they
would be a threat to the secular regime or not.
the other hand, when we look at the media in Turkey,
we see an enormous concentration in the hands of a
couple of companies. We have 3 major players in the
market, but two of them have major economic problems.
We see that the Dogan Group is the leader in
the pack with a viewership of 19% with two television
channels, a circulation share of 38%, and they hold
the 44% of the magazine market. Of all the total advertisement,
their share is 39%.
second largest group, Sabah, is having 15%
of the viewership. Their circulation share is around
18% and their magazine sale is about 23%. As a result
of all these activities, they get 18% of the total
advertisements in the country.
third large group Cukurova has 14% of the viewership,
8% of the circulation, 3% of the magazine sales and
11% of the advertising. The rest is distributed among
the smaller groups.
we look at the distribution of advertisement revenues
among different media, we have a very interesting
picture which is much similar to the one in the US
where there is a dilemma for the print media. On top
of the table you see real numbers in million dollars
what the distribution is between television, print
media, and other media. And in the bottom, you see
the percentages which might be easier to comprehend.
You can see that the TV's and print media's shares
were nearly equal in 1995: 41.5% each. Today, we see
that televisions are getting the 50% of the advertisement
whereas the print media is getting only 39% of the
advertisements. And there is a continuous increase
in the share of the TV; whereas, print media is losing
ground and the others of course are getting smaller
Television viewership of 5 hours which is a world record.
Why is that so? The answer is on these tables. This
is the TV viewership figures around the world for
the last three years (1997 - 1999). These are all
you look at the figures in Korea, usually the people
watch TV for about 2.5 hours on the daily average.
In Germany it is 3 hours. Same in France. In Brazil,
they watch around 2.5 hours. In England and Italy,
it is 3.5 hours per day. In the US, it is nearly 4
hours. When it comes to Turkey, you have television
viewership of 5 hours which is a world record because
TV is the main source of information and entertainment.
Because the Turkish television channels, as Prof.
Foster has indicated, are very colorful, very
rich, and the options offered to the viewer are very
wide which I will mention in a minute. So with 5 hours
of television viewership, television in Turkey has
become the source of information, entertainment, education,
and everything. So television is stealing away from
all the other media in Turkey.
you look at the growth potential in Turkey in this
media, on the average in North America per capita
advertisement spending is around $477; whereas in
Europe the average is $178 or in former Eastern European
countries which are about to join European Union -
in Hungary it is $112, in Czech Republic $82, in Poland
$65, in Latin America $ 44, in Asia Pacific Region
$21; whereas, in Turkey we have $14 per capita advertising
there is enormous room for the improvement in the
advertising revenues of the media in Turkey. This
would mean that the Turkish media will be gaining
more momentum and will be playing more major roles
in the coming decade.
television is so popular? If we go back to the roots
of television in Turkey, broadcasting started in Turkey
as a radio nearly at the same time like Europe. The
very first radio station in Istanbul started in 1927,
nearly at the same time as BBC. It was a private
company but with the crash of 1929, it was taken over
by the government. After that, it became mouthpiece
of the single party government. When multi party system
was introduced in 1946, the demand for unbiased radio
rose. Then, with a new democratic constitution that
came into power after the 1960 coup, the new constitution
stipulated that an independent autonomous body was
to be found to handle the broadcasting. TRT,
the state run company, was launched in 1964. Its initial
autonomy disappeared after the next military intervention
TRT again became the mouthpiece of the consecutive
governments. With the poor programming and financial
difficulties, TRT got rather poor viewership.
In 1989, the private channels started broadcasting.
All started as pirate stations and after a while,
radios and televisions popped up all across the country.
these circumstances, the Broadcasting Act
was passed in 1994. The regulatory body "Supreme
Council of Radio and Television" was formed.
The Broadcasting Act was strictly regulating.
The ownership limited shares in TV assets, anybody
who owned more than % 10 of any TV wasn't allowed
to do any dealings with the government and in the
always try to find a loophole, we run around and
get through it.
In Turkey we have a different habit; when we look
at the law, we always try to find a loophole, how
we run around and get through it. And exactly the
same thing happened here. All the TV owners were replaced
by the people who really were the figureheads as far
as the ownership was concerned. So in order to bring
reality to the TV world, in 2002 the act was amended
to liberalize the ownership and to abolish the heavy
handed penalties passed to the broadcasters by this
have terrestrial networks
in Turkey, we have terrestrial networks like you have
in this country. State owned TRT which runs
5 nationwide channels. On the top of that, we have
16 nationwide private channels. Four of them are leading
the pack: Kanal D, ATV, Star and
Show TV which have %60 of the total audience.
On top we have, 15 regional and 238 local private
TV channels which means in any locality in Turkey
with a simple antenna you attach to the back of your
television set, you can watch roughly speaking 15
to 20 channels.
top of that, we have the cable network. Cable network
is controlled by the Turkish Telekom, and run
by 6 private companies on revenue sharing basis. Cable
subscription is available in the top populated 20
cities -9 of them have a network of 44 channels, and
the rest have 60 channels. About 2.5 million households
are passed, but the subscribers are around 1 million.
All the terrestrial channels are available on cable
in addition to 10 cable only private channels and
12 foreign channels.
we have a digital system which initially we have three
digital television operators. Today, only one of them
is left, Digiturk, and the other two left the
race because of their financial difficulties.
just want to give some more figures for those who
are interested in this market.
we look at the figures for year 2001, 2002 and 2003
you can see that the Dogan Group is controlling about 18 to 19% of the
television viewership, Sabah
has a 14-15 % of the viewership, Cukurova is going in the same way although decreasing in the recent
years and Uzan Group's Star
has been going down quite dramatically. And Ihlas, a conservative group's television, is
keeping its position and the other channels are increasing
their shares from 31% to 35%.
is something we see also in the advertising revenues
as well. The Dogan Group has a share of 30%, Sabah Group has 20% of the advertising, Cukurova
a similar share, Uzan is losing its ground which is coming
down from 20% to 10 %, and Ihlas is more or less keeping the same position. So when we look at
the TV viewership share -these figures are quite significant
if you look at the development.
you can see in 1998, the four major players: Kanal
D, ATV, Star TV,
and Show TV control about 70% of the total
audience. Whereas, in 2003 their total share has come
down to 60% because lots of new television channels
which address to certain niche markets are coming
and becoming very popular nowadays. Thus, the others
share is going up from 21, 5% to 25%.
the UK where there are about 5 newspapers which have
a daily circulation over 3 million but the population
of England and Turkey are very similar.
And I will briefly touch upon to the print media before
winding up my speech. Newspaper publishing we see
a similar picture as far as the distribution is concerned,
but we see that the two groups are even stronger in
here. Dogan Group has in 2005, 45% of the total circulation;
but as new newspapers are introduced, their share
has come down to 38%. Sabah Group
is keeping its position as nearly 20%. Cukurova's share is fluctuating around 10%. As
you can see, the others share has gone up from 12
to 24% because a number of new successful newspapers
have been launched despite the share of the newspapers
are decreasing overall in the market.
the advertising, you can see that two thirds of the
total revenue of advertisements go to Dogan Group,
Sabah has 20%, and all the others despite their share of circulation
is increasing their revenues are not increasing terribly
Turkey, right now we have 28 leading daily newspapers
with an average daily circulation of around 3 million
up to year 2000. In 2000, with the boom of the economy
it has gone up to 4.3 million. Then with the crisis
it came down to 3 million again, but today it is over
4 million daily.
is a very small number if you take into consideration
the number of papers sold in a country like the UK
where there are about 5 newspapers which have a daily
circulation over 3 million; but the population of
England and Turkey are very similar.
world here again the Dogan Group has a very strong lead because of their
partnership with Germany's "Burda"
and Italy's "Rizzoli". They have
about 45% of the market. Sabah Group is holding 25% of the market and the
rest is being distributed among the others. Again
in the advertising revenues, Dogan Group has
the control of about 45%; whereas Sabah Group's share has come down from 25 to 16%.
these circumstances what Turkey stands for?
So, under these circumstances what Turkey stands for? Turkey used
to rule the Balkans, the Caucuses, and the Middle
East until 100 years ago. Therefore, it has a strong
affinity with the peoples of these countries along
with the central Asian nations who are distant relatives
of the Turkish people.
the developments in Turkey are watched closely by
these people. So the Turkish experiment can easily
be seen as a role model for these countries. This
is also a major element in policies of the US and
the European Union towards Turkey, as I mentioned
a little while ago. Turkish media which until very
recently was more interested in the developments in
the west is now getting more excited about the developments
in Balkans, Caucuses and the Middle East. Thus they
have started appointing resident correspondence in
to the satellite technology, Turkish television channels
are widely watched in these regions; and the developments
in Turkey are followed closely. There are a number
of Turkish papers published and distributed in these
countries as the economies of these countries pick
up and are able to sustain more expensive media operations.
Turkish companies probably will start moving into
these countries and this will not be a surprising
the meantime, as Turkish media is flourishing and
as the advertising expenditures increase, we may be
going into the third phase of media ownership in the
the papers were launched by strongly opinionated columnists,
and they were the cutting edge for the sales of these
papers. In the second phase, which we are living today,
bigger and more powerful domestic conglomerates started
bigger boys -the international media groups, are looking
into the Turkish media scene. In 10 years time one
shouldn't be surprised to see a more international
media in Turkey. Thus, Turkey can become a stepping
stone on the way to expand into the regions which
are now on the top of the global agenda.
you very much for listening! If there are any questions,
I will be pleased to answer them.
For Introductory by Prof. Edward Foster
Release of the conference - April 10, 2004
- Turkish media executive Çolakoglu to speak
--Announcement of the conference by Light MIllennium:
March 3, 2004
thanks to Hande Ilsever and Gokce Ilsever for the
Also, special thanks to Ayça Bahçe.
Light Millennium, April 2004, New York.