Turkey’s opposition battles media banishment ahead of polls

Ahead of critical elections this month, Turkey’s public broadcaster and mainstream TV channels are under fire for an unprecedented level of bias in favor of the government, while signs are emerging of audience fatigue with Erdogan.

Ahead of Turkey’s critical presidential and parliamentary polls on June 24, opposition parties face an unprecedented blackout by mainstream television channels, almost all of which are now in pro-government hands.

Opposition parties and their supporters have increasingly turned to social media, which some now call “the penguin repellent” — a reference to the mass anti-government protests in spring 2013, when one of Turkey’s main news channels ignored the eruption of unrest at Istanbul’s Gezi Park and aired a documentary about penguins instead.

In the May 1-25 period, the country’s two main news channels, NTV and CNN Turk, dedicated a combined 70 hours of coverage to Erdogan’s AKP and its election ally, the Nationalist Action Party (MHP), according to a report by the two opposition-nominated members of Turkey’s media watchdog RTUK. The report was made available to Al-Monitor. The CHP and Ince got 22 hours, while the Good Party and its presidential candidate, Meral Aksener, got 17 minutes and the HDP received no coverage at all.

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