October 8, 2015

Digiturk joins government-ordered ban on critical media

Joining two other similar platforms that earlier banned critical media in a government-backed move, digital satellite platform Digitürk announced on Thursday that that it stops the broadcast of TV channels Bugün TV, Kanaltürk, Shaber and Samanyolu, which are known for their critical stance towards the government.

Turkcell TV+, an online TV streaming service from Internet provider Superonline, and Tivibu, another service provided by TTNet, earlier announced that they removed the channels in question from their platforms by order of the Ankara Public Prosecutor's Office on the suspicion that these channels support a terrorist organization.

Even children's channel Yumurcak TV was removed, prompting anger from some users who were perplexed at the idea that a children's TV channel could be supporting terrorism.

Digiturk brought the same explanation in its statement on Thursday, saying the channels were removed from the platform “due to legal obligation.”

The removal of the channels is seen as a move by the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government to silence free and independent media before a crucial snap election scheduled for November.

The Bugün TV, Kanaltürk, Shaber, and Samanyolu TV channels have become the target of the government's crackdown for being deemed to be affiliated with the Gülen movement, also known as Hizmet, a grassroots social initiative inspired by Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan blames the movement for instigating the massive corruption probes revealed on Dec. 17 and 25, 2013, which involved ministers in his government and even some of his family members.

Consumers Association (TÜDER) President Aydın Ağaoğlu earlier told Today's Zaman that the banning of the TV channels could lead to consumers filing lawsuits against the platforms for violating their contracts.

“Companies cannot cancel [TV channels] that are set out in the contract before the contract term ends or the consumers are informed,” Ağaoğlu said.

Published on Today's Zaman, 8 October 2015, Thursday