October 14, 2015

Turkey’s media watchdog asks Digiturk to explain controversial ban on critical media

The Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTÜK) has asked the Digiturk satellite network to explain why it stopped broadcasting seven stations thought to be critical of the government.

In a decision taken by majority of votes on Tuesday, RTÜK members decided to ask Digiturk to issue a written statement to explain the grounds for the controversial ban. RTÜK officials will later decide on whether to impose a sanction on the network or not after the receiving the statement requested.

The digital platform's controversial move came just ahead of a critical snap general election slated for Nov. 1.

Last week Digiturk announced that it had stopped the broadcast of certain TV stations following a request from a prosecutor.

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

Even a children's station, Yumurcak TV, was removed, prompting anger from some users, who were perplexed at the idea that a children's TV station could support terrorism.
Teledünya and Kablo TV, digital satellite platforms which use the satellite company Türksat's infrastructure also halted the broadcast of the channels on Monday.

The Bugün TV, Kanaltürk, Shaber, and Samanyolu TV stations have become targets of the government's crackdown for being deemed to be affiliated with the Gülen movement, also known as the Hizmet movement, a grassroots social initiative inspired by Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who founded the AK Party, blames the movement for instigating the massive corruption probes revealed while he was prime minister on Dec. 17 and 25, 2013, which involved ministers in his government and even some of his family members.

Published on Today's Zaman, 14 October 2015, Wednesday