Critical Olay TV shut down due to the gov't pressure after 26 days

Staff at the newly-established Olay TV said during a live broadcast on Friday that the opposition network was going to shut down.

Olay TV executive editor Süleyman Sarılar said the network’s part-owner and licence holder Hüseyin Köksal was searching for another venue, adding that the other partner, former state minister Cavit Çağlar, had pointed to the Turkish government for putting on intensely pressure on the channel.

According to Sarılar, Çağlar said he had been “under great pressure by the government,” and couldn’t continue.

“He even said he had been presented with a list of people to replace all of us and move Olay TV forward,” Sarılar said. According to the executive editor, Çağlar was pressured to continue with renewed staff.

“Everybody knows which office in Turkey would silence and pressure a television channel that just started broadcasting on Nov. 30, and one that meant to engage in neutral journalism,” Sarılar said.

Following Sarılar’s account, Olay TV stopped broadcasting.

Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) caucus member Deniz Demir said the shut-down was “very sad.”

Meanwhile, the pro-government Demirören News Agency (DHA) reported Çağlar citing differences of opinion regarding the network’s policies.

Çağlar told DHA that he was a centre-right politician and didn’t feel comfortable with the network “prioritising” the pro-Kurdish left-wing opposition Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP).

The network was supposed to be neutral, but ended up leaning towards HDP talking points, Çağlar said.

“I told my partner that under these conditions, I couldn’t continue and would have to leave the channel. This business was a lesson for me,” Çağlar said.

Çağlar told DHA that he held the network licence and could start another channel with new staff “at an opportune time.” Çağlar founded one of the first news networks in Turkey, NTV News, which was a respected name in the news business for more than a decade, before falling under the thumb of Erdogan early 2010s, the fate that happened to all other mainstream newspapers and news channels eventually.

The HDP is subject to renewed government scrutiny as the party’s former co-chairs Figen Yüksekdağ and Selahattin Demirtaş, several prominent party figures including former mayor of Diyarbakır Gültan Kışanak and leader of HDP’s sister Democratic Regions Party (DBP) Sebahat Tuncel, and politicians who served in the central executive committee in 2014 are facing charges of terrorism and incitement to violence over what is known as the Kobani Incidents.

At least 37 people had died during three days of street protests over an Islamic State siege of the Syrian Kurdish town of Kobani in Oct. 2014, as Turkey’s Kurds demanded that Turkey take better action to stop the siege and fight ISIS, instead of what they perceived as showing support to the radical Islamist group that had taken over a significant portion of Syria during the country’s years-long civil war.