Turkey’s local newspapers protest public savings curbing official ad revenues

Several local newspapers have blacked out their front pages in protest against the Turkish government's public saving measures to curb official advertisements for local media, one of the main revenues of the local dailies.

Seçkin Sağlam / Gazete Duvar

Several local newspapers from Turkey’s Marmara region on May 30 blacked out their front pages to protest the government’s newly enacted public saving measures which resulted in a dramatic decrease in public advertisement revenues for the local media. 

The government, through the Press Advertisement Institution, publishes official public announcements and advertisements, such as tender notices, in periodicals and online news websites. These advertisements have been an important source of income for many local newspapers.

Western Balıkesir province’s Yaşam, Gazetem, Marmara, Politika, Birlik, Demokrat, Yeni Söz, Ekspres, Haberci, Takip, Ayvalık, Medya Ayvalık newspapers; and western Çanakkale province’s local daily Çanakkale Gündem, blacked out their pages for one day in protest against the practices adopted by the government agencies after Finance Minister Mehmet Şimşek had announced new public saving measures. 

For instance, the Social Security Institution (SGK) has raised the threshold for mandatory publication of property sale announcements from 500,000 Turkish liras to 2.5 million liras in a recently issued circular. This decision was expected to significantly reduce the official advertisement revenues of local newspapers.

Turkish Journalists' Association on May 29 issued a statement and underscored, “Local media undertakes the task of being the voice of the region in which it is located. It reports on a wide range of issues from local administrations to neighborhood problems. Therefore, the weakening or disappearance of the local media will lead to the disruption of regional journalism. It is vital for the public to be aware of local developments in terms of transparency and accountability of local administrations.”

Local newspapers printed a short statement in their front pages, “To contribute to the austerity measures, we are not publishing news and comments today and apologize for not informing our people about the good work of our public institutions and organizations.”

The newspapers participating in the protest organized under the leadership Balıkesir Journalists Association also announced that they would continue their protests if no steps were taken to solve the problem.

(English version by Can Bodrumlu)