Turkey’s economic woes are crippling its media sector, according to Nuri Kayis, chairman of the country’s broadcasting watchdog the Radio and Television Supreme Council.

“The local media has collapsed. The number of local radios, TVs and newspapers that have closed down in 2001 is 250,” he lamented.

Local operators are not the only ones suffering – ad revenue for Turkey’s media as a whole has halved in the last year from $530 million in 2000 to $262m in 2001, with almost 20,000 employees in the industry facing redundancy. “As far as we can determine,” continued Kayis, “there is no single television station that can show any profits.”

The last year has also seen an increasing willingness by the RTSC to clamp down on content considered politically sensitive, in particular separatist politics, such as the policies of the Kurds, and religious extremism.

“Darkening the screens is not something we are very happy with,” insisted Kayis, “but we are never shy of using our authority when it comes to protecting the public interest.”

However, his chief concern is the increasing dominance over the main TV channels and national newspapers of a few media moguls – a process helped by the collapse of local media, which Kayis sees as an effective block on concentrated ownership.

“In order to stop the monopolisation of the media, preventive measures must be taken as soon as possible,” he declared. “Business owners are racing each other to own a TV channel, because they know that they can use the medium as a powerful tool to benefit their other businesses.”

News source: AdAge Global