Hayat TV (Life TV), a Turkish channel broadcasting extensive live coverage of the ongoing protests in Taksim Square and Gezi Park, Istanbul, has been ordered to shut down. Regulators have ordered the broadcast to cease at 12:00 p.m. on Friday, June 14 due to a licensing issue; however, Hayat TV asserts this is a pretext to force closure of their broadcast of the protests.
In an open letter published today by blog EUObserver.com (which reports on events in the Arab world), Mustafa Kara, TV Broadcast Coordinator for Hayat TV, asks readers to “support freedom of press” and spread news of the closure (which the station hopes to reverse).
The letter reads in its entirety:
Hayat TV, a progressive Turkish TV channel of the working people, the youth, women and the intellectuals is facing closure. We believe this is a blow to people’s freedom of information.
The decision for the closure was made by the broadcasting regulator RTÜK, Radio & Television High Commission with the pretext that Hayat TV has no licence.
This is not true.
Hayat TV has been broadcasting since 21 March 2007 by ofcom license via TURKSAT satellite. But a recent change in broadcasting rules via TURKSAT requires broadcasters to obtain a RTÜK license to be able to broadcast via satellite.
Our application for a RTÜK license has been submitted and pending for a decision. We have taken all the necessary steps and RTÜK agreed that we could carry on broadcasting as it is until a RTÜK license is granted.
However, RTÜK is now making an arbitrary decision to close down our channel because of, we believe, our broadcast of recent protests in Istanbul and across Turkey. RTÜK says they investigated “the complaints received for our coverage of the Gezi Park protests” and made a decision for the closure.
We believe this closure is part of the overall repression on the media in Turkey during the more than two-week-long Gezi Park protests. Four other TV channels have been given a fine by RTUK because of their coverage of the recent events.
RTUK sent a letter to TURKSAT to put an end to Hayat TV broadcast at 12:00 p.m. on Friday, 14th June 2013. We believe this arbitrary and unlawful decision should be reversed. We call on all democratically minded people to show solidarity with Hayat TV.
Hayat TV Broadcast Coordinator
Suppression of media within Turkey (TV channels there initially continued to broadcast a documentary on penguins and a cooking show instead of early coverage of the protests) left many Turkish citizens in the dark about the events as they developed, hearing of them instead through social media and word of mouth. Outrage against this and other government handling of Taksim has fueled the ongoing protests. And with Turkish authorities warning earlier today that they’ll raid Taksim Square within 24 hours, it does appear curious timing to restrict live broadcasts of the events.
Reported by Cybelle Clements