Critical Turkish TV station KRT to be closed next month

An independent Turkish private television station devoted to culture but which became popular among those interested in politics for its unique willingness to host guests from across the political spectrum is to close down next month.

Lawyer Fidel Okan announced the news on his personal Twitter account, saying:  “I have just had a long conversation with the owner of @KRTKulturTV, Didem. They have taken the decision that KRT will cease broadcasting next month! ‘Taking this decision was very difficult: We would either have to surrender or shut down the station. We had to do it, we are very sorry,’ she said.”

In January of this year, pro-government commentator Cem Küçük had demanded the closure of the station, claiming it belonged to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

Meanwhile, Cem Toker, the former head of Turkey’s Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), said in an interview on KRT that President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was planning to reintroduce the office of the caliphate, a title of symbolic leadership in the Muslim world held by the Ottoman sultans and abolished by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk after the founding of the Turkish Republic.

“There is one more referendum left to come. I believe that Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is assertive [on this point]. My guess: the caliphate. We will ask the nation, ‘shall we bring back the caliphate or not?’” said Toker.

Surprised program host Çağlar Çilara responded by asking whether Toker was sure. “It’s a very, very great possibility, yes,” Toker replied. “March 3, 2024 is the hundredth anniversary of the abolition of the caliphate…”

Çilara said that ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) figures on the show had often defended the view that the caliphate should be brought back for the sake of the global Islamic community. If Erdoğan were to save the Islamic world, and some of them believed he should, Çilara said, he would not be able to do it as the president of Turkey alone.

Turkey is ranked 157th among 180 countries in the 2018 World Press Freedom Index released by Reporters Without Borders (RSF). If Turkey falls two more places, it will make it to the list of countries on the blacklist, which have the poorest record in press freedom.

Turkey is the biggest jailer of journalists in the world. The most recent figures documented by SCF show that 243 journalists and media workers were in jail as of June 27, 2018, most in pretrial detention. Of those in prison 184 were under arrest pending trial while only 59 journalists have been convicted and are serving their time. Detention warrants are outstanding for 143 journalists who are living in exile or remain at large in Turkey.

Detaining tens of thousands of people over alleged links to the Gülen movement, the government also closed down some 200 media outlets, including Kurdish news agencies and newspapers, after a coup attempt in Turkey on July 15, 2016. (SCF with Ahval)

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