Turkish main opposition to boycott ‘biased’ CNN franchise

Republican People’s Party candidate for mayor of Istanbul Ekrem Imamoglu celebrating in front of thousands of supporters at Beylikduzu in Istanbul. The party is boycotting CNN Turk over claims of biased coverage. (AFP)
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Updated 11 February 2020

Turkish main opposition to boycott ‘biased’ CNN franchise

  • CNN Turk has failed to cover major anti-government protests, choosing to broadcast nature documentaries instead

ANKARA: Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) is to boycott TV channel CNN Turk, after the party claimed its coverage of it was biased.

The CHP also called on its voters not to watch the channel, and to prevent their children from watching it “to protect them” from its dangers.

It is also announced that none of its politicians would appear on CNN Turk in future.

“Rather than being an independent and free news channel, CNN Turk … acts as the mouthpiece and propaganda instrument of the government, and broadcasts in line with the government rather than serving the public interest. CNN Turk works as if it is an advertising company and keeps positioning itself against the CHP ever since the local elections,” CHP’s vice chair, Tuncay Ozkan, said. 

CNN Turk, which was established in 1999 in a partnership between Turner Broadcasting System International and Dogan Media Group, was owned by Turkish business tycoon Aydin Dogan. 

The group changed hands and was sold to Demiroren Holding in 2018, a company loyal to the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), with close links to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. 

Kader Sevinc, CHP’s representative to the EU, said the total collapse of freedom in Turkey’s mainstream media was well-known, and that Turkish outlets had been heavily pressured and restricted for many years. 

“CNN Turk is a very good example for the total collapse of the mainstream media in Turkey. It has a clear track-record for manipulative, selective choices of news,” she told Arab News. 

The channel was criticized for allegedly spreading fake news about opposition parties before the March 2019 elections, stating that some opposition candidates had ties to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). 

It was also heavily criticized after it failed to cover the anti-government Gezi Park protests in 2013, and instead chose to air a documentary on penguins, earning it the nickname “Penguin Media.”

Last year, the CHP filed a complaint with CNN International about CNN Turk’s editorial policy and called on the international news channel to withdraw its franchised name from its Turkish channel. 

“It is very unfortunate, but CNN Turk is no longer any different to those media outlets acting as mouthpieces for the government,” Sevinc added. 

CNN Turk’s coverage of the recent plane crush in Istanbul, which killed three people and injured some 179 others, came under fire when a reporter for the station, whilst interviewing a relative of a survivor of the crash, cut the person off when they started to thank Istanbul’s opposition mayor Ekrem Imamoglu for his response to the accident. 

CNN Turk also provided less coverage of Imamoglu’s electoral campaign during the March and June 2019 elections than of his AKP rivals, and cut short an interview when he began talking about the municipality’s lavish spending. 

Many mainstream media groups in Turkey are now connected to the government through contracts in banking or tourism, putting them under editorial pressure. 

Demiroren Holding is active in many sectors such as energy and tourism. Many journalists critical of the government lost their jobs after CNN Turk changed hands.


Qatar’s BeIN chairman, two others indicted in bribery case

Updated 20 February 2020

Qatar’s BeIN chairman, two others indicted in bribery case

  • Former FIFA general secretary Jerome Valcke charged with accepting bribes, among others
  • Al-Khelaifi charged with inciting Valcke to commit aggravated criminal mismanagement

GENEVA: Paris Saint-Germain president Nasser Al-Khelaifi was charged Thursday by Swiss federal prosecutors in connection with a wider bribery investigation linked to World Cup television rights.

The office of Switzerland’s attorney general filed an indictment charging Al-Khelaifi with inciting former FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke “to commit aggravated criminal mismanagement.”

The Qatari football and television executive, however, no longer faces an accusation of bribery. Following a three-year investigation, FIFA reached an “amicable agreement” with Al-Khelaifi last month, prosecutors said, to drop its criminal complaint relating to the awarding of 2026 and 2030 World Cup rights to Qatari broadcaster BeIN Sports.

Al-Khelaifi is the head of Doha-based BeIN Sports and also a member of the UEFA executive committee.

Al-Khelaifi was indicted for his alleged part in providing Valcke — who had influence over the awarding of World Cup rights until being removed from office in 2015 — with use of a luxury villa in Sardinia without paying rent valued at up to €1.8 million ($1.94 million).

Valcke was charged with accepting bribes, “several counts of aggravated criminal mismanagement … and falsification of documents.”

For the first time in the five-year investigation of FIFA business, Swiss prosecutors revealed that they believe Valcke received kickbacks totaling €1.25 million to steer World Cup rights toward favored broadcasters in Italy and Greece.

A third person who was not identified was charged with bribery over those payments and also for inciting Valcke to commit aggravated criminal mismanagement.

Al-Khelaifi was appointed to the UEFA executive committee, representing European football clubs, one year ago despite being implicated in the bribery case. He is also an influential board member of the European Club Association, which is seeking to drive reforms in the Champions League to favor elite clubs such as French champion PSG.

He denied wrongdoing after being questioned in 2017 and 2019 in connection with criminal proceedings opened three years ago.

Al-Khelaifi has also been implicated in a separate corruption investigation by French prosecutors that is linked to Qatar seeking hosting rights for the track and field world championships. Doha hosted the 2019 edition.