Unprecedented fine imposed on Dogan Media Group threatens media pluralism in Turkey, says OSCE media freedom representative
VIENNA, 16 September 2009 - Miklos Haraszti, the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, expressed concern today over the "unprecedented" fine imposed on the Dogan Media Group in Turkey.
"OSCE commitments expect governments to provide the necessary conditions for a pluralistic press, and practise self-restraint in employing the State's legal power when dealing with the press, especially towards media offering critical voices," said Haraszti in a letter to Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu.
"I ask the authorities to establish a practice where fines imposed on media outlets are proportionate, and the amount does not endanger the working of the media outlet," he added.
His call follows the 2.5 billion dollar fine imposed on the Dogan Media Group on 8 September for alleged tax irregularities. Dogan Media Group has denied the allegations, saying that the aim of the fine is to silence a media group known to hold critical views of the government.
"The amount of penalties levied upon the Dogan Group is unprecedented and alarming," said Haraszti, also referring to the 500 million dollar fine imposed on the group in February this year, for alleged irregularities in selling shares to a German publishing company. "Already the earlier fine handed down to the media group was unusually high."
"The two fines add up to three billion dollars, which is reportedly the total value of all assets owned by Dogan. Were the holding to pay these fines, the Dogan Media Group claims that they would go bankrupt. This could significantly weaken media pluralism in Turkey," he said.
Haraszti added: "Proactive attention to media pluralism is an important commitment by all OSCE governments. Only media pluralism can sustain media freedoms. I hope Turkey will follow these standards."