Turkey election rivals accuse Erdogan of media monopoly
Opposition candidates in Turkey’s presidential election say incumbent President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has a near-monopoly over the media in the run-up to the June 24 elections.
Two opposition members of television watchdog RTUK said on Wednesday that Turkey’s main state-run TV station TRT devoted 67 hours of airtime to Erdogan and his AK Party last month, while Muharrem Ince, Erdogan’s main rival, had less than seven.
Erdogan is favored to win the elections and rule Turkey under a new and powerful presidential system which was endorsed in a referendum last year. However, critics say his dominance in the media has given him an unfair advantage ahead of the elections. They argue that Erdogan’s ever-increasing presence in the media may be the biggest obstacle to a free and fair voting process.
Umit Ozdag, deputy chairman of the opposition Iyi party, attended a rally at the offices of TRT to protest the biased coverage of the media. “They make pro-government broadcasting with the taxes we pay,” said Ozdag, whose party only got 12-minute airtime.
The RTUK has denied there is any unbalanced coverage in favor of Erdogan. Its chief Ilhan Yerlikaya told state news agency Anadolu that those claims were part of a plot by terrorist organizations to distort Turkey’s image ahead of the elections.
Turkey holds the upcoming presidential and parliamentary elections under an emergency law which was imposed after a coup attempt against Erdogan in July 2016.
Some 300,000 people have either been arrested or dismissed from their jobs over suspected links to coup plotters. Erdogan has called those criticizing his post-coup crackdown as terrorism sympathizers.
Turkey has closed more than 180 media outlets on suspicion of links to coup plotters while some 120 journalists have also been arrested over similar allegations.