November 8, 2015

Can Erzincan TV opens doors to Bugün TV, Kanaltürk in show of solidarity

Can Erzincan TV, a small local TV station, has been breathing new life into the otherwise suffocating institution of free media by allowing the Bugün and Kanaltürk daily's recently fired journalists to host programs on its network, in a show of solidarity.

Bosses of the channel, which had previously featured its own programs, decided to support free media by featuring programs hosted by news anchors and journalists fired from Bugün TV and Kanaltürk. The move comes in the wake of Koza İpek Holding and its subsidiary media group outlets being taken over by trustees on Oct. 28.

Can Erzincan TV's board chairman Recep Aktaş told the station's general manager “the channel is open to those defending free media. They [journalists fired from Bugün and Kanaltürk] can come and continue their broadcasts from here.”

On Oct. 27, an Ankara court ordered the takeover of Koza İpek Holding, which owns the İpek Media Group, appointing trustees to run its five critical media outlets -- Bugün TV, Kanaltürk, the Bugün daily, the Millet daily and the Kanaltürk radio station. The outlets, owned by businessman Akın İpek, were taken over based on an expert opinion that their financial records were implausibly clean.

Turan Görüryılmaz, who was Kanaltürk's news anchor before the takeover, stayed on air for 12 hours after his program was aired on Can Erzincan TV. Görüryılmaz says he is as excited now as he was when he first started his job. “Can Erzincan has become the symbol [of defiance against] the attempts of oppression and the silencing of free media,” he said.

Görüryılmaz, a former editor of Bugün TV, and Fatih Akalan continued the program as onlookers who support the initiative dropped in to show their solidarity with Bugün TV and Kanaltürk staff members and those working for Can Erzincan TV.

Akalan says they have set a target of becoming one of the five most-watched news programs in Turkey within three months. He states that the company is setting up meetings to broadcast the programs on the social media video-sharing platform Youtube and also on radio.

Aktaş said he was happy to let the Bugün and Kanaltürk TV channels continue their broadcasts but notes that he has been receiving many threats. He states that one of those who rang him said: “You turned on us, now you will get what you deserve! Be afraid from now on!”

Situated in the Sanayi neighborhood on the second floor of a building used as a wedding salon in İstanbul, Can Erzincan TV invites its guests into a warm atmosphere. With a technical staff of only four, plus one cameraman, one audio technician and one editor, Can Erzincan TV was a small local TV channel until the staff of two of Turkey's largest TV channels set up camp.

Published on Sunday's Zaman, 8 November 2015, Sunday