November 17, 2015

NBA star condemns STV’s removal from Türksat, calls for ‘honorable’ fight

Turkish center Enes Kanter, known for his previous success in the American National Basketball Association (NBA) in the Oklahoma City Thunder (OKC) jersey, has condemned the removal of more than a dozen television and radio stations owned by the Samanyolu Broadcasting Group from the state-owned Turkish Satellite Communications Company (Türksat), calling on the Turkish people and members of the media to maintain their “honorable” fight against the “deteriorating freedom of the press” in Turkey.

Enes Kanter of Oklahoma City Thunder
Enes Kanter of Oklahoma City Thunder

“I have just learned that the Samanyolu Broadcasting Group, which has always strongly adhered to professional codes of ethics, was removed from the state-owned Turkish Satellite Communications Company. This move is a major blow to freedom of information and freedom of press, and an effort to impose only one point of view on the public by silencing the opposition,” Kanter said in a written statement he released on Monday.

Thirteen TV and radio stations, including Samanyolu TV, Mehtap TV, S Haber and Radio Cihan, which are critical of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government, were removed from the state-owned Turkish Satellite Communications Company (Türksat) as of Nov. 14, 12 a.m.

“At this point, the only thing we can do is to take a stand against this injustice and call on Turkish citizens who desire media freedom to raise their voices over democratic principles. I strongly believe that people working within the Samanyolu group will never relent in their honorable struggle and will endure these difficult days by joining forces and establishing new broadcasting groups in the future,” Kanter added.

Upon an order from Ankara Public Prosecutor Serdar Coşkun in April, in which he asked the Türksat General Directorate to prevent the state-owned satellite connection from being used by media outlets that are critical of the government, the directors' board of Türksat sent messages to the aforementioned TV stations on Oct. 5 giving them a month before removing their platforms from its infrastructure, threatening the non-renewal of their subscriptions from Nov. 14.

The broadcast of the TV stations, which are known for their critical stance toward the government, were halted by Türksat because of a “legal obligation” to the order of the prosecutor's office, based on the suspicion that the channels support a terrorist organization.

Media reported that the prosecutor's demand came as part of an investigation into media outlets inspired by the faith-based Gülen movement, also known as Hizmet.

Among the TV and radio stations removed are: Samanyolu Europe, Ebru TV, Mehtap TV, Samanyolu Haber, Yumurcak TV, Dünya TV, MC TV, Samanyolu Africa, Tuna Shopping TV, Burç FM, Samanyolu Haber Radio, Mehtap Radio and Radyo Cihan.

In a similar vein, in early October, the Digiturk satellite network announced that it had stopped carrying the aforementioned TV stations following a request from a prosecutor.

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

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

Published on Today's Zaman, 17 November 2015, Tuesday