October 22, 2015

CHP files criminal complaint against TV streaming providers for censorship

A criminal complaint has been filed against the state-owned Turkish Satellite Communications Company (Türksat) as well as streaming services Digiturk and Tivibu for their removal of TV channels that are critical of the government.

Republican People's Party (CHP) deputy Ali Yiğit and CHP deputy candidate Murat Bakan filed criminal complaints against Türksat, Digiturk and Tivibu at the İzmir Courthouse on Thursday.

Türksat has been the recent focus of attention as its board, several members of which are close to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, notified TV channels Irmak TV, Bugün TV and Kanaltürk that their contracts would not be renewed as of November.

Streaming services Digiturk, Turkcell TV+, Tivibu, Teledünya and Kablo TV also recently removed seven TV channels that have been critical of the government -- namely, Bugün TV, Mehtap TV, Kanaltürk, Samanyolu TV, S Haber, Irmak TV and Yumurcak TV.

Speaking to reporters in front of the İzmir Courthouse on Thursday, Yiğit said the blackout imposed by Türksat and other service providers was a move to silence opposition voices.

“They [Türksat, Digiturk and Tivibu] are committing a crime. We will hopefully restore the law after [the] Nov. 1 [snap election]. People will have free access to information. The voice of opposition is currently being silenced… Denial of the opposition's right to access information is nothing but a blow to democracy,” Yiğit said.

The two deputies submitted a written request to the Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTÜK), demanding that the dropped channels be streamed on the platforms again. They also asked the Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK) to take legal action against Ankara Public Prosecutor Serdar Coşkun, who had demanded that Türksat remove some critical media outlets in early October.

His demand came as part of an investigation into claims about the “parallel structure,” a term invented by Erdoğan after a massive corruption scandal erupted in December 2013. These investigations particularly target media outlets inspired by the Gülen movement. The Gülen movement is also known as the Hizmet movement and is inspired by the teaching of US-based Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen.

Published on Today's Zaman, 22 October 2015, Thursday