IFJ Condemns Turkish Media Panic As Jobs Massacre Follows Cash Crisis

The International Federation of Journalists, the world's largest journalists organisation, today condemned concentration of ownership in the Turkish media and said owners were guilty of "panic-stricken hysteria" after savage job cuts following the country's recent financial crisis.

"Media employers are responding to the country's political and cash crisis with measures that show all the signs of panic and hysteria but very little humanity or common sense," said Aidan White, General Secretary of the IFJ.

In the last month up to 4,000 people working in media have lost their jobs. More than 1,000 journalists gathered in Ankara and met Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit, himself a former journalist. Ecevit last month sent financial markets tumbling when he stormed out of a meeting with political and military leaders accusing President Ahmet Necdet Sezer of insulting him over his anti-corruption operations.

Political crisis was quickly followed by financial collapse, the second in recent months. Stocks went into a free fall and inter-bank interest rates topped 4,000 percent. Media organisations were badly hit in the fall-out of these events.

"This crisis shows how vulnerable media become when there is too much concentration of media ownership," said Aidan White. "As a result we are seeing an across the board jobs massacre with no hint of social responsibility." The IFJ said the Government of Turkey was to blame for allowing an intolerable degree of media concentration in the country.

The Dogan Group, in particular, owns 70% of Turkish media and has made job cuts across its empire. "This appalling crisis could never happen in a country that recognises media are not just a cash-cow, but are important for democracy," said the IFJ. Dogan Group includes Kanal D, a private TV channel, the news channel CNN-Turk, Bravo TV, Kanal D Europe and a range of leading daily newspapers and magazines, including Hurriyet and Milliyet. It also controls radio stations Radyo D, Radyo Klüp, Foreks and Hur FM, and several leading magazine and the Dogan News Agency as well as printing houses and a distribution network.

The IFJ is supporting the campaign by its affiliates in Turkey - the Turkish Journalists Syndikat and the Progressive Journalists' Association - for better social protection for journalists. "Now, more than ever, journalists need their union and need to stick together," said the IFJ.