Population 78m1
Internet penetration 60%

While the Turkish government intensifies its suppression of media outlets, social media has increasingly become an alternative platform for news.

Top Brands % Weekly Usage (TV, Radio and Print)

Weekly use Main source
Fox TV news 60% 26%
Kanal D news 48% 8%
CNN Türk 47% 9%
NTV 47% 7%
Hürriyet 45% 2%
ATV news 40% 8%
Star TV news 40% 3%
Show TV news 38% 3%
TRT news 36% 8%
Sözcü 35% 3%
Milliyet 34% 2%
Habertürk TV news 33% 4%
Posta 29% 0%
Sabah 29% 2%
Cumhuriyet 23% 1%
Halk TV news 19% 2%

Top Brands % Weekly Usage (Online)

Weekly use Main source
CNN Türk online 37% 6%
Mynet news 36% 12%
Hürriyet online 35% 9%
NTV online 33% 4%
Milliyet online 31% 7%
Haberler.com 31% 6%
Sözcü online 29% 10%
İnternethaber 22% 3%
Habertürk online 22% 3%
Sabah online 22% 3%
Ahaber 20% 4%
Ensonhaber 20% 3%
Haber7 17% 2%
Cumhuriyet online 17% 2%
TRT news online 15% 2%
CNN International online 15% 1%

Overview of key developments

By Servet Yanatma
Reuters Institute Journalist Fellow and former Foreign Policy reporter with Zaman Daily

The freedom of press in Turkey has been hotly debated around the world as the ruling party has stepped up pressure on journalists and media owners. Recently, the seizure of two media groups, Zaman and Ipek, has increased concerns about not only the freedom of the press but also Turkish democracy. Despite the restrictions and occasional blocking, social media has emerged as a key communication tool for following national developments.

The decline in circulation of print media has made it harder for them to remain independent of political or commercial interests. Few newspapers make money, except Hürriyet, so they tend to be subsidised by owners who need to do deals with the government in areas such as energy and construction, or are heavily dependent on advertising from public companies. 2 At the same time, new dailies have been launched recently such as Yeni Yüzyıl and Karar that clearly support the government line. Other publications such as Özgür Düşünce and Yarına Bakış have replaced Bugün and Zaman after their take-over by the government. There has been no newspaper closure as a result of digital disruption, except Radikal which ceased its print publication in 2014.

The high use of online media for news reflects growing access to the internet and smartphones. However, internet operations mostly share and repackage news commissioned for print, television, or from news agencies. There are more digital-born news brands day-by-day but usage remains limited. It may be that their importance will grow as they have more freedom to express opinions. They also provide a platform for sacked journalists and columnists to continue their work despite the low salaries.

Amongst online brands, CNNTürk (37%) is especially popular with the urban and educated population. Hürriyet Online (35%) is probably the most visited site for news overall while its main competitor Milliyet does not refrain from using photos of women and more sensationalist topics to attract attention.

Digital-born web-portals, like Mynet (36%), InternetHaber (22%) EnSonHaber (20%), and Haber7 (17%), are a significant part of the Turkish landscape. They aggregate stories from newspapers and agencies and are important gateways to news.

Medyascope.tv, which broadcasts news through Periscope, deserves a special mention as a growing and important platform for free journalism. Even former ministers of the ruling party use this channel to make statements because they are not allowed to participate in television debates. The International Press Institute gave its ‘2016 Free Media Pioneer Award’ to Medyascope.tv, citing the website’s ground-breaking use of new technologies to impart independent news and information in a media landscape under tremendous pressure. Besides this, T24, Diken, Haberdar and Bianet are attracting audiences through the quality of their columnists and exclusive stories.

Ad-blocking is widespread in Turkey (31%) partly due to the amount of free ad-supported news and partly due to the extensive and intrusive nature of advertisements around text and video. Many ads are not designed for mobile use; and their links do not work properly in social media.

Social media is popular for discovering news stories but also for participation as Turkish people love to share what they do. Almost two-thirds of our sample (64%) use Facebook to share and discuss the news due to the high levels of political polarisation in the country. Twitter (30%) and Instagram (12%) are mostly used by better educated people.


Turkey devices


Turkey sources

Paying for news

The pay figures from Turkey will be inflated because of our use of an urban sample.
In addition, three-quarters of those that paid for news in the last year made a one-off payment for a single edition.

Turkey pay


Trust in the news media has decreased from 45% to 40% over the past year. Most media outlets are largely under the control or have come under pressure from the ruling party. There are only a small number of newspapers and television outlets that are able to criticise the government openly.

Turkey trust

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1 Facebook 64% 61%
2 YouTube 31% 35%
3 Twitter 30% 31%
4 WhatsApp 17% 20%
5 Instagram 12% 15%
*used weekly for news
  1. Data are from urban Turkey, rather than a fully nationally representative sample. This will tend to represent richer and more connected users.
  2. Servet Yanatma, ‘Media Capture and Advertising in Turkey’, Research Paper, RISJ, 2016.