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    Owner defends the controversial sale of Turkish TV

    Hurriyet English
    14.05.2008 - 11:38 | Son Güncelleme:

    Anti-AKP broadcaster Kanalturk was sold for $25 million to Turkish Koza Davetiye; a decision made under pressure, the former owner said on Tuesday. The sale of the TV channel to a pro-AKP group drew fierce criticism from secularists.

    Tuncay Ozkan said the broadcaster was in a financial bottleneck and if it wasn't sold, it would be auctioned.

    Koza Davetiye, the marketing arm of Turkish invitation, wedding and greeting card publisher Ipek Matbaacilik Sanayi ve Ticaret A.S., has bought a 99.99 percent stake in private television and radio broadcaster, Kanalturk, Koza said in a statement to the Istanbul Stock Exchange on Monday.

    "We sold the TV channel for $25 million. We were $20 million in debt," Ozkan said.         

    However Ipek Matbaacilik Sanayi ve Ticaret A.S. announced on Wednesday to the Istanbul Stock Exchange that Kanalturk was bought for $30 million, including the debts.

    Ozkan added he had to sell the channel to Koza Davetiye as no social democrats wanted to buy it. The sale of the TV channel to a pro-AKP group drew fierce criticism from secularists. Ozkan also said he was planning to buy a new TV channel and newspaper.

    A journalist himself, Ozkan’s stance is fiercely anti-government and pro-nationalist. One of his many accusations against the AKP was that it was trying to create "a media of its own." He founded a website, "Biz Kac Kisiyiz? (How many are we?), as a platform for nationalist opposition, which was bombarded with messages of protest against Ozkan after Tuesday's announcement.

    Observers say the deal is the opening of a new chapter in the relations between Turkish media and the ruling AKP, signaling further consolidation of pro-government media.

    Koza Davetiye, a Turkish greeting card manufacturer, had formed a consortium with Europe's largest commercial broadcaster RTL Group and Sancak Group to bid in the sale of the package of seized media assets including broadcaster ATV and Sabah Newspaper. But later the consortium pulled out of the tender, leaving Calik Group as the sole bidder.

    Koza owns the pro-AKP conservative Bugun daily newspaper. Although KanalTurk is a small privately owned TV channel, it was the country's loudest anti-AKP broadcaster and was the unofficial media sponsor of the demonstrations held in 2007 to protest former Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul's presidential candidacy.    

     

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