June 20, 2016

Türksat to drop critical Can Erzincan TV on July 16 in gov’t-led move

Can Erzincan TV — a station known for its critical stance against the government — will be removed from the Turkish Satellite Communications Company (Türksat) on suspicions that include “making propaganda of a terrorist organization” on July 16, a notice recently sent to the station has informed.

The notice sent by Türksat on June 16 claimed that the channel was to be dropped a month later on suspicions that include violation of the Anti-Terror Law and the Law on Establishment of Radio and Television Enterprises and their Media Services. “It is legally impossible not to annul the contract with the company mentioned above,” the notice stated.

The Can Erzincan TV station, which is critical of the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, is expected to be dropped from Türksat and Cable TV on July 16.

A pro-government daily reported on June 12 that İstanbul Chief Public Prosecutor Hasan Yılmaz has sent a notice to Türksat recommending the suspension of Can Erzincan TV’s broadcasting on the grounds that its programs serve the purposes of Gülen movement.

The move came after 15 TV channels, 5 radio stations, 3 newspapers and a magazine critical of the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government were shut down in the last nine months.

A number of journalists, academics and press members criticized the attempt, arguing it violates press freedom, which was secured by the Constitution. Social media users have posted tweets using the hashtag #Kapatma (Do not shut it down!) to raise their voices against the attempt.

As part of government’s witch hunt against the Gülen movement, popularly known as the Hizmet movement — a civil society initiative inspired by Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen’s teachings promoting worldwide interfaith dialogue, peace and tolerance — a large number of schools, educational institutions and companies, due to their alleged links with the Gülen movement, have been seized as part of government-orchestrated investigations following a major graft scandal in December 2013 that revealed the government’s involvement in corruption.

In October of last year, Turkey witnessed appointment of a panel of trustees to the İpek Koza Holding in a government-backed move, which apparently aimed to intimidate independent journalists and attracted widespread negative reaction.

The trustees took over the management of the Bugün and Millet dailies and the channels Bugün TV and Kanaltürk early on Oct. 28 when police forcibly entered the broadcasting headquarters of the media group, during which journalists and protesters claimed they were subjected to police brutality. The trustees immediately fired dozens of journalists from the group and turned the news outlets, which used to have a critical stance, into government mouthpieces. The outlets were later shut down.

Trustees also took over the management of Feza Publishing, which includes the Zaman and Today’s Zaman dailies earlier in March. Zaman was Turkey’s best-selling daily before the appointment of the trustees selling 600,000 copies daily.

Also in December, Turkey saw the screens of 14 TV channels go black, as well as the silencing of several radio channels that operate under the Samanyolu Broadcasting Group because they were removed from the state-owned Türksat infrastructure.

Türksat dropped these media outlets despite having signed an agreement with Samanyolu Broadcasting Group that necessitated service being provided until 2024. The move left hundreds of journalists jobless

Published on Turkish Minute, 20 June 2016, Monday