May 10 2018

Turkish news channels switch to sports when opposition speaks

Turkey’s news channels are used to broadcasting President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım’s speeches in full, but many of them chose to ignore the first major campaign speech of the main opposition candidate for the presidency in favour of footage of an ethnic sports competition organised by Erdoğan’s son, opposition newspaper Cumhuriyet said.

Bilal Erdoğan’s Turkey Traditional Sports Federation’s “Ethnosports Cultural Festival” began on Wednesday and continues until May 13, showcasing traditional sports from around the Turkic world.

When Republican People’s Party candidate Muharrem İnce began speaking at a rally in the western province of Edirne, news channel CNN Türk only broadcast the first minute before switching to the sporting festival. The channel also ignored nationalist presidential candidate Meral Akşener’s campaign speech on the same day.

Pro-government Habertürk went one further, broadcasting an interview with Bilal Erdoğan at the sports event rather than giving any airtime to his father’s opponents.

Turkish parliamentary and presidential elections called by the government are to be held on June 24, and the winner of the presidency is set to inherit a bevy of new powers thanks to a 2017 constitutional change.