November 9, 2015

‘Erdoğan threatens people who place ads with Samanyolu TV’

In an exclusive interview with the Cumhuriyet daily, Samanyolu TV Program Coordinator Murat Kesgin has accused President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of placing intense pressure on media outlets that are critical of government policies and openly threatening the people and companies that place advertisements on Samanyolu TV.

“In addition to those who place ads on Samanyolu TV, we are also being threatened by representatives of the [presidential] palace. I believe that all the pressure we are facing is coming directly from President Erdoğan. We have lost a big portion of our advertisement income in the past two years. This has forced us to make severe cutbacks in order to survive,” Kesgin said on Monday.

Kesgin also stated that there are rumors that trustees might be appointed in a government-backed court decision to take over the management of Samanyolu TV and so they have decided to suspend the shootings of the TV series that are aired on the channel.

“We have not ended our TV series and other programs. We have just made cutbacks in the face of rumors that a trustee might be appointed to the management of our station. We have taken a one-week break in shootings of the TV series. This break might last for another week. We have been going through economic difficulties for almost two years. They [Erdoğan and the government] openly threaten those who place advertisement on Samanyolu,” Kesgin stated.

Government whistleblower Fuat Avni has claimed that President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan ordered the appointment of trustees to seize media outlets close to the Gülen movement, a civil society group inspired by Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen.

The whistleblower stated that Erdoğan is planning to implement all his “plots” against the critical media before losing the “virtual power” he acquired following Sunday's snap election that brought a landslide victory to the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) he co-founded. “They want to finish the Cemaat [the movement's] media immediately and then move on to other media [outlets that are critical of government]. He [Erdoğan] ordered the appointment of trustees to the Samanyolu Group and the Zaman daily. They are next,” he tweeted on Nov 5.

He added that a trustee is to be appointed to Kaynak Holding, which also supports the movement.

Avni's claims come shortly after partisan trustees were appointed to take over the management of Koza İpek Holding, which also owns a number of critical media outlets, based on a controversial court order. The corporate headquarters of Koza İpek Holding, which owns five critical media outlets, was raided by riot police last week, who used pepper spray as they entered the building to serve the holding with what opposition voices said was an unlawful decision to take over company management in order to silence the free media less than a week before the Nov. 1 general election.

Published on Today's Zaman, 9 November 2015, Monday