Turkey | Freedom House

Freedom of the Press



Freedom of the Press 2004

2004 Scores

Press Status

Partly Free

Press Freedom Score
(0 = best, 100 = worst)


Political Environment
(0 = best, 40 = worst)


Economic Environment
(0 = best, 30 = worst)


Constitutional provisions for freedom of the press and of expression are only partially upheld. In June 2003, the latest in a series of reform bills designed to facilitate Turkey's candidacy for entry into the European Union was passed; the new law formally permits previously outlawed Kurdish-language broadcasts on private stations and repeals a law banning "separatist propaganda" that had been used against journalists sympathetic to the Kurdish minority. A law on the right to access government information was published in October. However, numerous laws are regularly invoked to restrict freedom, including those against insulting state institutions such as the army, aiding illegal organizations, and commenting on ongoing trials. For example, Turkish generals filed a lawsuit against the Islamist daily Vakit and one of its columnists in October for an article describing the generals as pretentious and incompetent. Sinan Kara, a journalist known for articles criticizing local political leaders, was imprisoned in October for allegedly threatening the son of a former prime minister; Kara claims he was attacked by one of the man's bodyguards. Nevertheless, the number of journalists held in jail has dramatically declined in recent years, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. A wide variety of independent print and broadcast media outlets provides a diverse spectrum of views. Most media outlets are owned by a few large holding companies that have outside business interests and in many cases refrain from excessive criticism of the government. In addition, broadcast media are regulated by the High Board of Radio and Television (RTUK), which temporarily closed at least 15 radio stations during 2003 and is reportedly subject to some political pressure.