Friday, May 16, 2008

KanalTürk Sold to 'Islamists'

From Gareth Jenkins:

The May 12 sale of KanalTurk, the most fiercely antigovernment national television channel in Turkey, to an associate of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has consolidated a growing shift in the balance of power in the Turkish media from opponents to supporters of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).

KanalTurk was founded by Tuncay Ozkan, a maverick 41-year-old journalist with a weakness for conspiracy theories, who was regarded by many of his colleagues as having greater conviction than credibility. Nevertheless, Ozkan and KanalTurk played a key role in organizing a series of mass public protests against the AKP’s attempts to appoint Abdullah Gul to the presidency in the spring of 2007. Ozkan frequently accused Erdogan of attempting to control the flow of information in Turkey by encouraging AKP supporters to enter the media, while buying the silence of mainstream newspapers and television channels by offering their owners lucrative state contracts and privileged access to privatization deals. As a result, many of the demonstrators at the rallies that swept through Turkey in spring 2007 directed their anger not only at the AKP government but also at the lack of coverage of their protests in the mainstream press. One of the most popular slogans at the rallies was “Biz Kac Kisiyiz?” meaning “How many people are we?” This was also used as the name of the main website for the protests,

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