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TV host slammed for cutting short program featuring opposition mayoral candidate

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Journalist and television host Ahmet Hakan Coşkun has attracted widespread criticism for prematurely ending a program on Turkish broadcaster CNN Türk on Monday night during which he hosted the opposition’s İstanbul mayoral candidate, Ekrem İmamoğlu.

İmamoğlu appeared on Coşkun’s “Tarafsız Bölge” (Neutral Area), which was broadcast live.

Although the Republican People’s Party (CHP) mayoral candidate for İstanbul, İmamoğlu, was elected according to the results of the March 31 election, in a controversial decision on May 6 Turkey’s Supreme Election Board (YSK) decided to hold a new mayoral election in İstanbul due to objections from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), whose candidate lost in İstanbul.

When İmamoğlu began to provide figures for the waste of public funds at the İstanbul Municipality, which had been under AKP rule for years, Coşkun said it was time to go to commercial break and then conclude the program. İmamoğlu said he had been told the program would end at 12 a.m. and that there were 30 minutes to go. Coşkun said time had run out and allowed İmamoğlu to speak only for a few more minutes.

Coşkun came under fire on social media for not allowing İmamoğlu to speak until the end of the program, and many said his questions were biased and aimed at cornering İmamoğlu.

In the meantime, a former CNN Türk editor, Emin Çapa, said on Tuesday that the video mixing desk of the program had been called by AKP officials and ordered to end the program immediately and not to broadcast it again.

Çapa said similar incidents had happened at CNN Türk in the past.

The AKP government, which closed down dozens of media outlets and jailed hundreds of journalists, all critical of the regime, in the aftermath of a failed coup attempt in July 2016, is being widely criticized for taking the Turkish media under its control.

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