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Cyprus: a divided public


Cyprus's media landscape was shaped by the former colonial power Great Britain until independence in 1960. That same year press freedom was enshrined in the constitution and in 1989 extended via a law.

Border strip in Cyprus.
(© picture-alliance/dpa)


Since the division of Cyprus in 1974, the island's media landscape has also been de facto divided. The newspaper market in the southern part of the island is dominated by six major newspapers published in Greek and two major English-language newspapers. The market in northern Cyprus is dominated by fifteen Turkish-language dailies, the largest of which is Kibris. Several newspapers have strong ties with the Turkish-Cypriot parties. The number of dailies in northern Cyprus has increased considerably in recent years, since business people from Turkey became active in this sector.

The banking crisis in 2013 had a strong impact on media reporting. The view of developments in the Greek-Cypriot media was marked by the political and economic interests of the medium in question and its owners. Reporting on the crisis ranged from panic reports of a possible state bankruptcy to a feeling of collective guilt, an overemphasis on corruption and an increasingly close alignment with Europe. The last was aggravated by the dispute between Nikosia and Ankara about gas reserves off the coast of Cyprus.

Overall newspaper sales fell considerably during the crisis. Many journalists had their salaries cut and many employees lost their jobs. Whereas in the past reporting focused mainly on political issues, nowadays economic reporting is central. The importance of digital media - particularly online news portals and alternative online sources as well as social media such as Facebook and Twitter - has increased in recent years. Cypriots generally tend to use the Internet as a primary news source.

The influence of political parties and the Church on the media is strong. The Church owns a share in the TV channel Mega, for example. The daily Haravgi has close ties with the Communist Party, as does the radio station Astra.

Radio in Cyprus was under British influence until well into the 1950s. Today southern Cyprus has two state and six private television channels. Audiences tend to prefer the private channels because they broadcast entertainment programmes and series. In the north people tend to watch Turkish television, but there is also one Turkish-Cypriot station and five private ones.

Press Freedom Index:

Reporters without Borders: 24th place (2015)
Freedom House: 42nd place (2014)

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