Police forcibly cut broadcast of Bugun TV and Kanalturk after seizure of Koza Ipek

Following the government-led decision to seize Koza ipek Holding and appoint partisan trustees to take over the management of its companies on Monday, police entered the ipek Media Groupand’s headquarters in Istanbul on Wednesday and took the Kanaltandurk and Bugandun TV channels and the Kanaltandurk radio station off the air.
Police officers forcibly entered the building housing Bugandun TV and Kanaltandurk, the media groupand’s two flagship stations that have long been a main platform for opposition politicians, and took them off the air in what some commenters have speculated in a move designed to ensure that pro-Justice and Development Party (AK Party) trustees appointed to run the channels can control what they broadcast.
Immediately after the police and trustees entered the Kanaltandurk broadcast room, they cut stationand’s live broadcast and aired a public service announcement. However, Kanaltandurk and Bugandun TV then launched a joint broadcast lasting more than 10 hours, despite the policeand’s persistent efforts to cut it. The police then evacuated the floor of the building from where Kanaltandurk broadcasts and the cables that transmit the live broadcast were unplugged. A number of supporters staging a protest in front of the building were dispersed with pepper spray and water cannon. Police finally managed to cut the broadcast at around 4:40 p.m.
Bugandun TV and Kanaltandurk General Manager Tarik Toros and journalists for the TV channels prevented the police from entering the Bugandun TV broadcast room for several hours. andquotDear viewers, do not be surprised if you see police in our studio in the coming minutes,andquot a Bugandun TV anchor said as he narrated the unfolding drama. Hundreds of people, most of them journalists from media outlets affiliated with Koza ipek Media Group, thronged outside the headquarters of the company to protest the seizure of the companies by the Turkish government.
Before police entered the building, a number of representatives of opposition parties and other media groups arrived to criticize the takeover and show their solidarity with the Kanaltandurk and Bugandun journalists. A live broadcast by Bugandun showed violent altercations between protesters attempting to stop the authorities from entering and police, who sprayed water to disperse the crowd. After dispersing the group, police entered the building by cutting the chains on the door of the building.
A number of people including journalists were detained by police, with several of them being punched and kicked. Two reporters were hospitalized by the police brutality, one with severe injuries to his internal organs and the other with a broken leg.
After a request from Prosecutor Musa Yanducel, Judge Yunus Sanduer of the Ankara 5th Criminal Court of Peace ruled on Monday for the takeover of the administration of the holdingand’s 22 companies, Including the two television stations, two newspapers and one radio station that have a critical editorial position toward the government.
Mahmut Tanal, a lawmaker from the Republican Peopleand’s Party (CHP), tried to negotiate with the police officers, but the riot police proceeded to enter the building, where at least five media outlets are operating. CHP deputies Barii Yarkadai and Eren Erdem also participated in the protest. Tanal and Erdem were slapped and kicked by the police along as were other protesters, Tanal told the media.
A reporter from the Bugandun newspaper posted a photo of his bleeding hands on Twitter after he was injured when attempting to prevent police from entering his office. Fatih Akalan, an editor at the newspaper, shouted at the police outside the building. A number of reporters standing outside openly cried as they watched the takeover.
An anchor from Bugandun TV said, andquotLook. This is the entrance to my office. But it is occupied by the police now.andquot
The takeover of the management of Koza ipek Holdingand’s companies comes just days before Turkeyand’s repeat parliamentary election on Nov. 1. The move has intensified concerns about the deteriorating state of freedom of speech and media in Turkey.
Many politicians and civic movements have strongly protested the controversial seizure, which they consider to be a part of systemic efforts by the interim AK Party government to silence the critical media outlets since the countryand’s worst corruption scandal went public on Dec. 17, 2013. With only a few days left to a key election, Bugandun TV would have been a significant free voice in the media reporting on both the election and candidates.
On Wednesday morning, before it had been taken off air, the TV station continued live its live broadcast despite police pressure, mostly featuring people condemning the takeover.
h2 Trustees try to replace Bugandun TV with pro-govand’t ATV channelh2 Toros, who continued with the Bugandun TV broadcast despite the attempts by police to take it off air, said during a program that the trustees were trying to replace Bugandun TV with broadcasts from the pro-government ATV channel.
andquotWe are broadcasting under extraordinary circumstances in a very small, 16-square-meter broadcasting room, resisting the police crackdown and trusteesand’ efforts to merge the Bugandun TV broadcast with ATV via a device brought from the ATV headquarters,andquot Toros explained minutes before the broadcast was cut.
The left-wing news channel Halk TV set up a joint broadcast with Bugandun TV before it was cut to simulcast what was happening in the Bugandun newsroom and the forcible seizure of the channel. Halk TV anchorman Ayienur Arslan criticized the takeover, saying in a live phone conversation with Toros: andquot Tarik, I can see that the hairs on your arm standing on end. The media, which is a vital and indispensible element of democracy, is now under attack. All media outlets should stand together against this cruelty. We should all raise our voices together. We are in contact with our colleagues at CNN Tandurk on the matter. CNN Tandurk is continuing to feature the incident. I donand’t know whether NTV and Habertandurk have adopted a similar stance but I will ask them to show solidarity with Bugandun TV.andquot
Speaking to Todayand’s Zaman on Wednesday about the takeover, the Bugandun dailyand’s Editor-in-Chief Erhan Baiyurt said that the police breached Article 30 of the Constitution, which bans the confiscation of media outlets even though it has committed an offense.
andquotWhen the police and trustees arrived at the building, they did not have a single official document authorizing the replacement of the management board of the ipek Media Group with trustees. Even if they had such a document, their assignments should have been published in the Turkish Trade Registry Gazette. However, no such decision has been published by the gazette. The raid by the police and trustees on the media group is unlawful, brutal and violent. The seizure is clearly politically motivated,andquot Baiyurt said.
h2 All trustees appointed to Koza ipek Holding are pro-AK Partyh2 All the trustees appointed by the court to the boards of directors of the companies that make up Koza ipek Holding are either members of or support the AK Party, even though trustees appointed to companies seized in this manner are required to be independent and objective.
One of the trustees appointed to the new board is a former aertisement manager at the Sabah newspaper, a staunchly pro-government newspaper run by the brother of the son-in-law of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, news reports have said.
Speaking live on Bugandun TV on Wednesday shortly before it was taken off air, Toros told a group of police officers and trustees who had entered the studio: and”You do not have the legal authorization. You do not have properly processed papers and so cannot remove me from my position. I am the general manager of Bugandun TV. This broadcast will continue. You cannot meddle in our broadcast. The broadcasting manager makes such decisions, not you.andquot
One of the trustees, andumit Onal, replied: andquotI cam to see you. Letand’s go.andquot Toros refused and told the trustees not to intervene in the broadcast and leave the building, repeating that they had no authority to take over the channel.
Toros then asked the trustees to show him an official document proving that they have authorization to take over the channel, but they were unable to do so.
While the doors of the building were being broken down, CHP deputy Erdem warned a police officer who gave the order to enter the building that they had no official written order giving them the authority to enter. In response, the police officer said: andquotWhat is an authorization? I write on a piece of paper and thereby authorize officers. Thatand’s it.and”