President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on June 30 issued a circular instructing public institutions to cut down spending on several items, one of which is newspapers.
Accordingly, newspapers will be not delivered to any of the government agencies, except departments on press monitoring and library documentation centers.
The circular's relevant regulation has raised eyebrows, with the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) calling the move “tragicomic” for a government known for its extravagance in public expenditure.
“While millions of liras are being spending for summer and winter palaces in Marmaris and Ahlat, a ban on the purchase of 50-kurus, 1 lira worth of newspapers and the declaration of this as 'We are saving' is tragicomic. There is no saving on reputation, but rather on culture, reading,” said CHP MP Atila Sertel on July 7.
Not content with the vast presidential palace in the capital Ankara, Erdoğan is to get two more. One is being built in the seaside resort of Marmaris, while another is being built in the eastern province of Bitlis' ancient town of Ahlat.
The CHP lawmaker said that Erdoğan was using the government budget to put a financial grip on the media, especially those critical of himself.
He recalled that in 2020, pro-government newspapers received a significant volume in advertisements from state banks, while opposition newspapers such as Birgün, Korkusuz, Evrensel, Karar, Cumhuriyet, Milli Gazete, Sözcü, Yeniçağ and Yeni Asya received none.
“When you look at the statistics, you see that the widely-read and -sold newspapers are unable to receive advertisements [from public institutions], whereas newspapers that are not read or sold are supported through public advertisements,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Journalists Union of Turkey (Türkiye Gazeteciler Sendikası, TGS) announced on July 7 that it will hold protests across several cities in demand of the cancellation of the relevant regulation in the presidential circular.
“We are saying, 'There can be no saving from news.' Let the circular that bans public institutions from purchasing newspapers be canceled!” TGS said on its Twitter account, as it revealed the name of the places where the protests will be held on July 8.
📢 Yarın 'Haberden tasarruf olmaz' diyoruz: Kamu kurumlarına gazete almayı yasaklayan genelge iptal edilsin!— Gazeteciler Sendikası (@TGS_org_tr) July 7, 2021
İstanbul-TGS Akademi 12.00
İzmir-Hasan Tahsin Anıtı 12.00
Adana-Sanatçılar Parkı 12.00
Mersin-Uğur Mumcu Anıtı 12.00
Eskişehir-Adalar Migros Önü 12.00 pic.twitter.com/F2vVgaNh03
Meanwhile, the cost reductions indicated in the presidential circular exempt Erdoğan and parliament.