Newspapers and magazines were forbidden in Turkey until the mid-nineteenth century; now there are dozens of titles, representing the full gamut of public tastes. The airwaves were government-controlled until the late 1980s, but the advent of satellite dishes and cable has seen a huge growth in TV and radio stations of variable quality.
Three titles – Sabah, Hürriyet and Milliyet – dominate the newspaper market. Politically left of these stands Radikal, although another title, Taraf, is far more radical than Radikal and frequently incurs establishment ire. Cumhuriyet, founded as the mouthpiece of the Turkish republic in 1924, mixes conservative nationalism with old-style socialism. Turkey’s liberal-Islamist papers, Yeni Şafak and Zaman, give generally intelligent and thoughtful coverage. Satirical weekly comic strips have a long history in Turkey. Look out for the distinctive artwork of L-Manyak, Le Man, Penguen and Uykusuz.
Turkish channels include several state-owned TRT (Turkish Radio and Television) channels, with a mix of films, panel discussions, classical Turkish music shows and soaps. TRT-6, launched in 2009, broke a long-held Republican taboo by broadcasting in Kurdish. The most watched private channels include Show, Star, ATV and Kanal D. For Turkish pop the MTV-style Kral, Kral Pop and Power Turk lead the way.
The nation’s leading digital company, Digiturk, has a number of English-language channels including CNBC-e and E2, both of which concentrate on re-runs of US TV shows and films. BBC Entertainment offers a mix of BBC comedies, dramas and soaps, while CNN, BBC World and Al Jazeera offer 24-hour news. Most high-end hotels subscribe to the Digiturk package screening these channels.
Digiturk also shows Turkish Premier League football on its Lig TV channel. English Premier League matches are shown on Premier League TV. Many bars and cafés subscribe to these and often have big screens showing Turkish matches. Bars in tourist areas usually have English and other European football games on.
Frequency-crowding means even popular channels are almost impossible to pick up without interference. Of the four public radio stations, Radyo Üç (the Third Programme or TRT-3), most commonly found at 88.2, 94 and 99MHz, broadcasts the highest proportion of Western music. NTV Radiyo (102.8) has the news in English at 6pm daily.
For Western music try Açık Radyo (FM 94.9) for rock, jazz and soul. Alternatively, search out FM (99.5), Kiss FM (90.3) and Metro FM (97.2). Radyo Blue (94.5FM) specializes in dance, electronica and blues. For Turkish music, the best stations are Kral (92.0) and Best FM (98.4).
With the exception of İstanbul’s Beyoğlu district, where some period pieces date back to the 1920s, most cinemas are in shopping malls. Films are shown in the original language with Turkish subtitles, though kids’ films are dubbed into Turkish. The volume is often excessively high, making the obligatory fifteen-minute interval a relief. There are often five screenings daily, generally at 11.30am or noon, then at around 3pm, 6pm, 9pm and sometimes midnight. Tickets in provincial cities cost TL7–12, with reduced prices (TL6) one or more days midweek; plusher cinemas charge TL15 and up.