CNN Türk, DHA cut opposition leader’s speech after sale to pro-gov’t group

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CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu

In a development that fueled concerns that media outlets formerly owned by the Doğan Media Group would give less coverage to Turkey’s opposition after their sale to the pro-government Demirören Group, CNN Türk and the Doğan news agency (DHA) on Friday cut a speech by the main opposition leader while he was criticizing the Turkish government.

Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu was delivering an address in Konya on Friday and discussing a report drafted by human rights organization Mazlumder about rights violations in Turkey. Kılıçdaroğlu was quoting a verse from the Quran that was added to the end of the Mazlumder report, which highlights the need to stand up for justice, when his speech was cut short by CNN Türk and DHA.

Last month the Doğan Media Group, the largest media company in Turkey, which has been harshly criticized for acting as a mouthpiece of the Turkish government over the last few years, was sold to the Demirören Group, owned by businessman Erdoğan Demirören.

Doğan had sold the Milliyet and Vatan dailies to Demirören in 2001. These newspapers have a strongly pro-government editorial policy.

With the latest sale, Demirören assumed the ownership of a number of media outlets including Kanal D, CNN Türk, Tv2, Dream TV, Dream Türk, Hürriyet, Posta, Fanatik, Hürriyet Daily News, TME, Doğan Burda Dergi, Doğan Egmont, Doğan Kitap and Dergi Pazarlama ve Planlama (DPP).

The handing-over ceremony of the Doğan media outlets took place on Monday at the headquarters of the Hürriyet daily in İstanbul.

The Doğan Media Group, which has played an influential role in the recent history of the Turkish Republic by shaping the nation’s agenda and sometimes siding with the Turkish military against democratically elected governments, has in past years received heavy criticism for bowing to pressure from the Justice and Development Party (AKP) and endorsing its anti-democratic policies out of fear of being taken over by the AKP government.

The AKP government has taken over or closed down hundreds of media outlets in the country including Turkey’s best-selling newspaper, Zaman, and has jailed around 200 journalists due to their critical views.

In the meantime, the CHP filed a complaint with the Turkish Competition Authority on Wednesday regarding the sale of the Doğan Media Group to the Demirören Group, claiming that the sale of Doğan Media to Demirören will lead to monopolization and cartelization in the Turkish media.

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