A voice recording between prime minister Tayyip Erdogan and Mehmet Fatih Saraç, the deputy chairman of the Ciner Media Group, that owns the TV channel Haberturk, was published on Youtube yesterday. It is direct proof that Erdogan personally intervenes to control the media in Turkey.
The conversation took place on the 4th of June 2013, in the middle of the Gezi protests. At the time of the conversation, Erdogan is in Morocco watching Haberturk. He is upset because the channel is broadcasting a news ticker informing of a speech where the opposition party leader, Bahçeli, is calling for President, Abdullah Gül to interfere in the situation (i.e. to override Erdogan). Erdogan orders Saraç to take the ticker out of broadcast. Saraç sounds scared, nervously repeating that he is going to take care of the situation immediately.
Here comes my own rough translation of the conversation (based on a original transcript in Turkish taken from Bugün):
Recep Tayyip Erdoğan: Fatih, look, right now I…
Mehmet Fatih Saraç: Yes, Mr. Prime minister
Recep Tayyip Erdoğan: I am here in Marocco watching TV…
Mehmet Fatih Saraç: Yes, Sir!
Recep Tayyip Erdoğan: … all of Bahceli’s talk is shown and now, the talk is also running as a text below.
Mehmet Fatih Saraç: Got it, Sir! Right now! Ok!
Recep Tayyip Erdoğan: And in Bahceli’s written text it says that the presidents first responsibility is being in meetings, but additional to these meetings he should take care of the situation…
Mehmet Fatih Saraç: I got it, Sir!
Recep Tayyip Erdoğan: … through these meetings he should take steps to bring peace to the country
Mehmet Fatih Saraç: Ok Sir!
Recep Tayyip Erdoğan: I mean Bahceli said this, and it is constantly going as a text on the TV
Mehmet Fatih Saraç: Ok sir! Got it sir! Right now sir!
Recep Tayyip Erdoğan: You say you understand, but my god, why do I need to call you about something like this?
Mehmet Fatih Saraç: Ok, your order, Sir! I got it!
Recep Tayyip Erdoğan: Right now… It has to be done!
Mehmet Fatih Saraç: I am doing it right now, Sir!
After this conversation, the video above includes voice recordings in which you can hear Saraç calling other people to have the ticker being taken out of broadcast on the prime minister’s order!