Turkish TV station shut down after broadcasting pro-Kurdish views

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A private Turkish TV station that aired pro-Kurdish opposition views has shut down less than a month after launch, raising press freedom concerns in a country often chastised by rights groups.

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Olay TV, owned by businessman and former minister Cavit Caglar, began broadcasting on November 30 and was pulled off the air on Friday.

Its staff announced its closure live on air.

Caglar said he pulled out of the venture because the station’s editorial line veered too close to the pro-Kurdish opposition, while the editor claimed he had bowed to government pressure.

Executive editor Suleyman Sarilar said on air that the network had aimed to maintain equal distance from every segment in Turkey’s polarized society.

“But we have seen that we can no longer keep up with this kind of broadcasting ... Cavit (Caglar) said he was under intense pressure from the government and that he cannot move forward,” he claimed.

The Olay TV broadcast stopped following Sarilar’s announcement.

Caglar said in a statement that Olay TV abandoned impartiality and was close to the line of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) -- accused by the government of links to outlawed Kurdish militants.

“I have been active in center-right politics and served this country. I was unsettled by the broadcasts of Olay TV’s editorial team,” he said.

“I shared my concerns with my business partner, as (Olay TV) moved from impartial to pro-HDP broadcasting. When I offered to ‘create balance by including some additional colleagues in the channel,’ my partner did not accept it.

“I informed him that I would not be able to continue under those circumstances and had to leave the network.”

Turkey is considered one of the world’s leading jailers of journalists, ranked 154 out of 180 countries on a Reporters Without Borders press freedom index.

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