Layoffs of Turkish media personalities continue after Doğan Media’s sale to pro-Erdoğan group

Three television personalities were dismissed on Monday in an ongoing shakeup that has followed the takeover of the Doğan Media Group by a businessman with close ties to the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) led by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan earlier this year.

Their dismissal followed on the heels of that of journalists Hakan Çelik, Ahmet Hakan, İsmail Saymaz, Aslı Öymen, Erdoğan Aktaş, Süleyman Sarılar and others,

Demirören Holding, which already owned a media group that includes the Vatan and Milliyet newspapers, had bought the Doğan media conglomerate for $916 million in March. The group has fired a number of journalists and media personalities since the sale. in its latest move, the group fired popular late-night talk show host and comedian Beyazıt Öztürk, known more commonly as Beyaz, from Kanal D. “The Beyaz Show” holds the title of the longest running late-night talk show on Turkish television.

Meanwhile, journalist Deniz Zeyrek, host of news program “Parametre” (Parameter) on CNN Türk for the past six years, was also fired, according to a report by online news outlet Diken. Zeyrek, who is also a columnist for the Hürriyet daily, shared the news on his Twitter account along with a photo with his colleagues. “I’ve come to the end of my parameter,” Zeyrek said.

CNN Türk anchorwoman Ahu Özyurt has also been fired, the site reported, following days of talk that the anchorwoman would be parting ways with the station.

CNN Türk also decided to end journalist İsmail Saymaz’s job as a commentator on its prime-time program “Gece Görüşü.”

According to local media another journalist, Nevzat Çiçek, who comes from a polticial Islamist background, was also cut from the same program. Çiçek is not known as an opposition journalist, but rather for his mildly critical tone of the government in rare instances.

Hakan Çelik had previously lost his position as the channel’s representative in the capital of Ankara but remains the presenter of a morning program on weekends. In April, Ahmet Hakan was removed from his role as a presenter on Kanal D, which Demirören is reportedly planning to downsize and staff with journalists from the pro-government channel Show TV.

Former CNN Türk general director Erdoğan Aktaş lost his job in May, to be replaced by pro-government academic and commentator Bora Bayraktar.

CNN Türk also sacked Ebru Baki, the channel’s economic editor, and a well-known presenter, Aslı Öymen, the coordinator of the channel’s programs, who had been working at CNN Turk since 2006, and Cansel Poyraz, the chief editor of the channel’s news programmes. The channel also ended veteran conservative journalist Taha Akyol’s weekly program and sacked one of its news presenters, Duygu Demirdağ. The general director of the channel, Erdoğan Aktaş, is also among the casualties.

Thirteen people were also sacked from Doğan Media’s Kanal D, in addition to its general director Süleyman Sarılar. Murat Güloğlu, the presenter of the channel’s morning news programme, has also joined the list of fired personalities.

Turkey is ranked 157th among 180 countries in the 2018 World Press Freedom Index released by Reporters Without Borders (RSF) on Wednesday. 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 253 journalists and media workers were in jail as of May 11, 2018, most in pretrial detention. Of those in prison 192 were under arrest pending trial while only 61 journalists have been convicted and are serving their time. Detention warrants are outstanding for 142 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 the coup attempt in Turkey on July 15, 2016.

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