Turkish PM directly intervened in TV news broadcast: Opposition MP
Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) Deputy Parliamentary Group Head Yusuf Halaçoğlu uses his tablet computer to play a recording of the alleged phone conversation between Erdoğan and an executive of private broadcaster Habertürk at the Parliament's General Assembly, Feb 4. AA photoAn opposition lawmaker has accused Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of directly intervening in a TV broadcast, speaking during a parliamentary session late on Feb. 4.
Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) Deputy Parliamentary Group Head Yusuf Halaçoğlu also used his tablet computer to play a recording of the alleged phone conversation between Erdoğan and an executive of private broadcaster Habertürk, which had leaked onto the Internet earlier on the same day.
In the recording, Erdoğan is heard demanding that the TV executive remove a news ticker referring to a statement by MHP head Devlet Bahçeli at the height of the Gezi Park demonstrations last June.
The “breaking” ticker in question had referred to Bahçeli’s calls to President Abdullah Gül to “do something about the Gezi protests,” at a time when Erdoğan was on an official visit to Morocco.
“This shows the extent of the scheme and how the entire press has been taken under control. Those who can’t even tolerate statements being relayed in news tickers are talking about advanced democracy,” Halaçoğlu said after playing the recorded conversation to Parliament.
“Such a scandal is unprecedented,” he added.
Halaçoğlu’s intervention raised the tension in the General Assembly, with Development Minister Cevdet Yılmaz slamming the leak and questioning its authenticity.
“How can some circles inside or outside Turkey invade the privacy and intimacy of people and procure this [phone record]? And we don’t know if it’s authentic or not, it could be fake,” Yılmaz said.
The Habertürk executive is also heard in other leaked phone conversations, apparently conducted after his conversation with Erdoğan, asking employees to immediately remove the news ticker and questioning why it was put up in the first place.
Habertürk, a mainstream news broadcaster, was the first TV station to which Erdoğan gave an interview after the Gezi Park protests erupted.
The Turkish media landscape was slammed throughout the protests for not adequately broadcasting the police crackdown on the streets of Istanbul and other cities.