Tivibu, an online TV streaming service provided by TTNet, has decided to stop carrying TV channels Bugün TV, Samanyolu Haber and Mehtap TV, which are known for their critical stance with regard to the government, Bugün TV and Kanaltürk General Manager Tarık Toros wrote in his column in the Bugün daily on Sunday.
TTNET was founded in 2006 as an ISP of Türk Telekom, Turkey's largest fixed-line operator. It offers users the benefit of its catch-up TV service as well as more than 100 national, local and foreign TV channels, in addition to the ability to rent and watch movies online.
Toros said Türk Telekom was run by pro-government figures who are known for their close ties to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. These figures include businessman Abdullah Tivnikli, Higher Education Board (YÖK) member Fahri Kasırga -- who was appointed by Erdoğan in February -- İbrahim Eren, a friend of President Erdoğan's son Bilal Erdoğan and Erdoğan's top economic adviser Yiğit Bulut.
Toros ended his column by saying: “The free media [in Turkey] is being silenced. Turkey is being plunged into darkness. Turkey, support your [free] media. Otherwise, these could be our last words.”
Claims of Tivibu's censorship of TV channels critical of the government were initially made by main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) İstanbul deputy Eren Erdem on Twitter on Saturday. “I was informed that Tivibu will drop all critical channels. If this is true, it is a very desperate situation. Fear [of the government] is now everywhere,” Erdem wrote. Stating that the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) is trying to shut down all opposition voices, Erdem added: “[Dropping critical channels] is censorship. If this happens, it will go down in [Turkey's] political history.”
Ever since corruption investigations implicating senior AK Party officials and some family members of President Erdoğan were made public on Dec. 17 and 25, 2013, the government has pursued a policy of silencing media outlets that cover the graft scandal.