Are you listening American News Media?
Is the Turkish government trying to break the back of a media conglomerate that has served as its most vocal opposition by slapping it with a whopping $2.5 billion tax penalty?
That’s the question being asked in Turkey and abroad after authorities levied a record-breaking fine on the Dogan Media Group, which publishes several influential newspapers (Hurriyet, Milliyet and Radikal among them) and owns CNN-Turk, the Turkish-language version of CNN, among other channels. The penalty (which nearly equals the entire value of the company) comes on the heels of a $500 million tax fine issued against Dogan a few months ago.
"It raises question marks, absolutely," says Bulent Aliriza, director of the Turkey Project at the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies. "The sum involved is astronomical. Clearly this is enough to break the back of any corporation and it opens up the question of what is the goal of the government?"
According to Turkish tax officials, Dogan engaged in deceptive practices and failed to pay tax on income earned through the sale of a company and through the transfer of shares between companies within the group itself. According to the Dogan Group, everything has been above board and the government, through its taxmen, is out to get it by twisting the country’s financial rules to suit its purposes.