By Kadri Gursel ,
CNN Turk — a franchise of CNN, the US broadcasting giant owned by Warner Media — has been plunged into the spotlight in the media freedom controversy in Turkey as the main opposition decided to boycott the channel over its support of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government.
In a Feb. 6 presser to announce the boycott, Tuncay Ozkan, deputy chairman in charge of media relations at the Republican People’s Party (CHP), likened the station to an “advertising agency” that promotes the narratives of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), while “covering up the realities.” The channel’s biased coverage, he stressed, has reached an “intolerable level” since the local elections last spring that saw the CHP defeat the AKP in major urban centers. In the parliamentary elections in 2018, the CHP had mustered 22.6% of the vote, winning 146 seats in the 600-member parliament.
According to Ozkan, the boycott decision was made at a Feb. 3 meeting of the CHP central executive board on the grounds that CNN Turk “had been setting traps for the party and party members, villainizing them and distorting the realities.” CHP members, from party leaders to regular members, “will no longer appear on CNN Turk and take part in their programs,” Ozkan said. The CHP, he added, “advises citizens to not watch this channel and not let their children watch it to protect themselves from the harms of CNN Turk.”
It is the first time that the CHP has boycotted a pro-Erdogan media outlet since the AKP came to power more than 17 years ago.