Turkey’s largest media group Doğan sold to Demirören

The largest media company in Turkey, the Doğan Media Group, which has been harshly criticized for acting as a mouthpiece of the Turkish government over the last few years, was sold on Wednesday to the Demirören Group for $1,1 billion.

Businessman Aydın Doğan, owner of the Doğan Media Group and honorary president of the company, reportedly reached an agreement with businessman Erdoğan Demirören, owner of the Demirören Group, over the sale of his company.

Turkey’s Doğan Holding said on Thursday that it started talks with Demirören Holding on the sale and transfer of its visual and print media components in an official announcement to the Public Disclosure Platform.

“We initiated the talks regarding the sale of all of our components which operate in print and visual media on an operating value of $1,1 billion and a share value of $890 million in case of a discount related to debts,” it said in its statement.

“These components include YAYSAT, the company performing distribution of media and non-media products, Doğan Gazetecilik [Posta, Fanatik], Doğan News Agency, Doğan TV Holding, DTV News and Visual Broadcasting, Doruk TV and Radio Broadcasting [CNN Türk], Hürriyet Gazetecilik ve Matbaacılık and Mozaik Communication Services [Dsmart],” it added. Doğan Holding also stated that when there are developments regarding the sale, it will notify the public within the scope of the relevant legislation.

One day after news broke about the sale of Turkey’s largest media group, businessman and honorary president of the Doğan Media Group, Aydın Doğan, said he himself made the decision to sell his media group. In a written statement on Thursday, Aydın Doğan said: “I have left the age of 80 behind. At this point today, I have decided of my own accord to end my profession as a publisher.”

Doğan said he had worked in the media sector for 40 years and that his media group had managed to become one of the most respected and important media organizations in Europe. “As a publisher, I have attributed great importance to independent and objective journalism by remaining loyal to the universal principles of journalism. I have paid attention to protecting our state’s interests and our nation’s rights,” Doğan said in his statement.

The businessman said a preliminary sales protocol was signed with the Demirören Group on the morning of March 22 and that work has been initiated to complete the necessary transactions for the transfer.

Doğan had sold the Milliyet and Vatan dailies to Demirören in 2001.

The Doğan Media Group currently owns 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).

Aydın Doğan, 81, who controls a business empire employing some 16,000 people with operations in the energy, retail and manufacturing sectors, first entered the media business in 1979 by acquiring the Milliyet newspaper. In addition to the acquisition of Kanal D from the Doğuş Group in 1994, Doğan acquired Hürriyet daily and launched the Posta newspaper in 1995, forming a considerable media group with various other theme publications and TV stations. He then established CNN Türk in partnership with US-based cable news broadcaster CNN International in 1999, and acquired the country’s first English language newspaper, the Turkish Daily News, in 2000, which was renamed the Hürriyet Daily News in 2008.

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 ruling Justice and Development Party (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 current 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.

Turkey is the biggest jailer of journalists in the world. The most recent figures documented by SCF show that 245 journalists and media workers were in jail as of March 20, 2018, most in pretrial detention. Of those in prison 190 were under arrest pending trial while only 55 journalists have been convicted and are serving their time. Detention warrants are outstanding for 139 journalists who are living in exile or remain at large in Turkey.

Detaining tens of thousands of people over alleged links to the Gülen movement, the government also closed down more than 180 media outlets after the controversial coup attempt. (SCF with turkishminute.com)

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