Turksat drops critical TV channels as of Saturday amid gov’t pressure

A total of 13 TV and radio channels including Samanyolu TV, Mehtap TV, S Haber and Radio Cihan that are critical of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government have been removed from the state-owned Turkish Satellite Communications Company (Tandurksat) as of Saturday 12 a.m., a move which many see as the final nail in the coffin of free media and freedom of expression in Turkey.
Upon an order from Ankara public prosecutor Serdar Coikun in April, in which he asked the Tandurksat Directorate General to prevent the state-owned satellite connection from being used by media outlets that are critical of the government, the directorsand’ board of Tandurksat sent messages to the aforementioned TV channels on Oct. 5 giving them a month before removing their platforms from its infrastructure, threatening that 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 Tandurksat because of a and”legal obligationand” to the order of the prosecutorand’s office, based on the suspicion that the channels support a terrorist organization.
Media reported that the prosecutorand’s demand came as part of an investigation into media outlets inspired by the faith-based Gandulen movement — also known as Hizmet.
Among the TV and radio stations removed are: Samanyolu Europe, Ebru TV, Mehtap TV, Samanyolu Haber, Yumurcak TV, Dandunya TV, MC TV, Samanyolu Africa, Tuna Shopping TV, Burandc 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 broadcasting the aforementioned 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, previously announced they too had removed the stations in question from their platforms by the order of the Ankara Public Prosecutorand’s Office, on the suspicion that the channels were supporting a terrorist organization.
Even childrenand’s channel Yumurcak TV was removed, prompting anger from some users, who were perplexed at the idea that a childrenand’s TV station could support terrorism.
The Bugandun TV, Kanaltandurk, Shaber and Samanyolu channels have become targets of the governmentand’s crackdown for being seen as affiliated with the Gandulen movement, a grassroots social initiative inspired by Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gandulen. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan blames the movement for instigating the massive corruption probes of Dec. 17 and 25, 2013, which involved ministers in his government and even some of his family members.


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