Censorship? THY cancels critical newspapers from flights, airports

The Turkish Airlines (THY) has cancelled the procurement of Today’s Zaman, Zaman daily, Bugün newspaper and some minor newspapers like nationalist-leaning Ortadoğu with a notice to the distribution companies, Today’s Zaman reported.

Aslıhan Bozkurt from the Planning Department of THY confirmed on phone the cancellation of the purchases, saying THY’s complimentary services are being restructured and that these two publications are no longer in the plans of the company.

Today’s Zaman tried to reach THY’s corporate relations to ask the rationale of THY’s decision to no avail. The company also failed to respond to the questions via email.

Although the company is reluctant to disclose the major grounds on which it basis its decision, but it seems to be something in common with the anti-corruption news in the Zaman group publications and the other media outlets. THY, a public company whose 46.43 percent shares are in the possession of the Turkish Privatization Administration (ÖİB) and the rest being traded in the Bourse İstanbul (BİST), seems to be openly discriminating against the free press and punishing it with such petty measures like cutting its purchases.

THY has been drawing attentions for girding itself with an increasingly hostile attitude towards the Hizmet movement. Recently, for instance, THY brand consultant Serdar Öztürk sent a blasphemous Twitter message about Muslim Scholar Fethullah Gülen, whose sermons inspired a globe-size movement of education and of tolerance and dialogue. The tweet stirred a massive outrage online, but the company hasn’t imposed any penalty against its worker so far, despite Chairman Ali Topçu’s announcement that “the necessary step will be taken.” Actually, he lapsed into silence when groups which openly identify themselves close to the ruling party AKP lambasted him and that he will see consequences if he touches Öztürk.

The decision to silence the press at a time when the news about the largest corruption case, which includes accusations about ministers, prominent businessmen and some mayors from the AKP broke, can be seen as a move to obscure the voice of opposition.


About yavuzbaydar

Yavuz Baydar has been an award-winning Turkish journalist, whose professional activity spans nearly four decades. In December 2013, Baydar co-founded the independent media platform, P24, Punto24, to monitor the media sector of Turkey, as well as organizing surveys, and training workshops. Baydar wrote opinion columns, in Turkish, liberal daily Ozgur Dusunce and news site Haberdar, and in English, daily Today's Zaman, on domestic and foreign policy issues related to Turkey, and media matters, until all had to cease publications due to growing political oppression. Currently, he writes regular chronicles for Die Süddeutsche Zeitung, and opinion columns for the Arab Weekly, as well as analysis for Index on Censorship. Baydar blogs with the Huffington Post, sharing his his analysis and views on Turkish politics, the Middle East, Balkans, Europe, U.S-Turkish relations, human rights, free speech, press freedom, history, etc. His opinion articles appeared at the New York Times, the Guardian, El Pais, Svenska Dagbladet, and Al Jazeera English online. Turkey’s first news ombudsman, beginning at Milliyet daily in 1999, Baydar worked in the same role as reader representative until 2014. His work included reader complaints with content, and commentary on media ethics. Working in a tough professional climate had its costs: he was twice forced to leave his job, after his self-critical columns on journalistic flaws and fabricated news stories. Baydar worked as producer and news presenter in Swedish Radio &TV Corp. (SR) Stockholm, Sweden between 1979-1991; as correspondent for Scandinavia and Baltics for Turkish daily Cumhuriyet between 1980-1992, and the BBC World Service, in early 1990's. Returning to Turkey in 1994, he worked as reporter and ediytor for various outlets in print, as well as hosting debate porogrammes in public and private TV channels. Baydar studied informatics, cybernetics and, later, had his journalism ediucatiob in the University of Stockholm. Baydar served as president of the U.S. based International Organizaton of News Ombudsmen (ONO) in 2003. He was a Knight-Wallace Fellow at University of Michigan in 2004. Baydar was given the Special Award of the European Press Prize (EPP), for 'excellence in journalism', along with the Guardian and Der Spiegel in 2014. He won the Umbria Journalism Award in March 2014 and Caravella/Mare Nostrum Prize in 2015; both in Italy. Baydar completed an extensive research on self-censorship, corruption in media, and growing threats over journalism in Turkey as a Shorenstein Fellow at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard.
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