Information about media company owners and their shares can be found most of the time in the Trade Registry Gazette archive on ticaretsicil.gov.tr. The archive can be searched by names of companies. The names of the companies that own the media outlets are relatively easy to find: In case of newspapers, the name of the company and publisher have to be published every day in the newspaper. For TV and radio channels as well as websites, the owner company is most of the time displayed on the website.
In order to access the name of a natural person, checking the information on affiliated companies in the Trade Registry Gazette might be necessary. However, many of the media outlets have companies as their only shareholder, so, to disclose the name of an actual person, the individual owner, it might be necessary to go through a number of interrelated companies in the trade registry. The trade registry search engine does not allow for an individual's name to be searched; however, this can be done (at least for companies registered in İstanbul) by using the İstanbul Chamber of Commerce (İTO) website on ito.org.tr/wps/portal/bilgi-bankası, if the national ID number is known. During the MOM Turkey 2018 updates, these records could only be accessed by searching the name and surname information.
As of 2020, in accordance with the Law on the Protection of Personal Data, it has become obligatory to search by adding a national ID number to the "Search by Partner/ Board of Directors/ Authorized Person" function in the aforementioned search engine of İTO. If you do not know the national ID number of the person you want to search, you cannot directly access the information about in which companies the person is a member of the board of directors, and therefore, you cannot access the information of the company via the search engine. National ID numbers of people known to be associated with companies can be found in the old records of the Trade Registry Gazette, but, for this, it is necessary to inspect all old records one by one. In cases where the national ID number is available, İTO's search engine can be used.
In the phone call of the MOM team with the İTO, it was stated that it was “deemed appropriate to require” the national ID number when doing a search.
The name search function in the chamber's search engine only indicates if the person is a member of the Board of Directors and (unless a company is a 'Limited') does not show which companies they own shares in. To track this, the only way is to identify the name of the company and analyse all its records in the Trade Registry Gazette. Some of the old records cannot be opened online using the Trade Registry Gazette, so, it is nearly impossible to retrieve information on shareholders if the shares have not been traded for a long time.
Financial information is not open to public
Although some financial reports of groups such as Doğuş and İhlas are accessible, they do not publish their revenues and profits through updates.
In 2018, companies which directly claimed that their financial information regarding their media are not open to public were Kalyon (Turkuvaz), Demirören, Estetik, Türk Medya (previously known as ES Medya), Hayat Görsel Yayıncılık, Albayrak Group and MN Yazılım. This year, we did not get any reply to our emails sent to them.
After the sale of Doğan Group's media assets to Demirören Group in 2018, the Demirören Group issued an annual activity report for Hürriyet newspaper. Reports for 2020 and 2021 are available. According to the information obtained, the financial reports mentioned were not only about hurriyet.com.tr but also about all digital media owned by the group, including posta.com.tr and fanatik.com.tr. We have not heard from this group this year, either. In 2018, the group did not share the follower data of its digital media transparently with any research company. However, this year, Gemius Audience also shared the data of the Group.
We did not get any replies from Ciner Group about its financial information.
We also did not get any answers from Fox TV, Show TV, Star TV, NTV, Kanal D and CNN TÜRK TV TV channels; Kral FM, Radyo 7, A Haber Radyo, Show Radyo, NTV Radyo, TGRT FM and CNN Türk radio; sozcu.com.tr, sabah.com.tr, mynet.com.tr, haberturk.com.tr, haber7.com, onedio.com, internethaber.com, takvim.com.tr websites.
Freedom of information requests unanswered
TRT FM, TRT1 (TV) and Anadolu Agency (AA) did not respond to MOM's freedom of information requests or questions about their income.
We asked the Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTÜK) to reveal the amount that the Council has cut from the 10 TV and 10 radio channels with the highest income, which should have been public information. However, RTÜK did not answer this, saying that it was a financial secret.
The Press Advertisement Institution (BİK) announced the 10 best-selling newspapers. However, since 2010, BİK has not publicly reported the revenues of advertisements distributed to newspapers using public resources, and has not shared statistics declaring that it is a "trade secret". The amount of advertisement and advertising revenue distributed to the newspapers is stated only in the annual report of the institution, but this report is also not disclosed to the public. In 2020, we again asked the Presidency’s Communication Center (CİMER) for information about the first three newspapers that received the most advertisement in 2019 and 2020, we learned that we do not have the possibility to access the information as it is a trade secret according to Article 34 of the Regulation on Principles and Procedures for the Right to Access to Information.