The Turkish Journalists Union on Wednesday, May 23, attacked draft reforms to a law governing the media as certain to compromise press freedom and encourage monopolies by entrenching the power of owners.
A draft bill to change the media law has passed parliamentary commissions. No date has been set for it to be debated in the main assembly. The union singled out a planned change that removes restrictions dictating that those owning more than 10 percent of a media group cannot bid in state tenders.
"Press freedom is being sold off so that media owners can enter state tenders," said a written statement from the union, representing some 3,500, of an estimated 15,000, media workers.
The union says media owners already have too much power to limit unionization and dictate editorial policy. That power would be strengthened by allowing media groups to take over control of privatized state enterprises.
"It is clear that the publication policy of the media employers, through internal censorship, more clearly reflects their own commercial concerns than the principles of journalism. In this structure it is impossible to speak of editorial independence...opening the door to state tenders to groups that own radio and television is the start of a very dangerous road," it said.
The media law reform is not part of a package of changes Turkey has promised the International Monetary Fund in return for a pact that unlocks some $15.7 billion in international loans to help end an economic crisis.
Turkey's major newspapers, owned by the Dogan and Sabah groups, have been largely supportive of Turkey's crisis recovery plan. ― (Reuters, Istanbul)
© Reuters 2001
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)