Evidence shows dirty deals between CHP and KanalTürk

A document shows the main opposition Republican People's Party transferred funds totaling $3.5 million to the Kanaltürk TV station in return for exclusive and preferential broadcasting.

Evidence shows dirty deals between CHP and KanalTürk

A newly discovered document shows the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) transferred funds totaling $3.5 million to the Kanaltürk TV station in return for exclusive and preferential broadcasting.

Star daily published on Tuesday a copy of the contract between Kanaltürk managers and CHP deputies signed in 2004. According to provisions of the agreement, Kanaltürk agreed to run party commercials at primetime for four years and accepted to host pro-CHP experts and analysts in its programming ranging from music to sports. The channel also promised to allocate no less than seven hours in news programs to CHP officials and agreed to give broad coverage to campaign tours by party leaders across the nation.

The agreement was signed on behalf of the CHP by its secretary-general, Önder Sav, who recently came under fire after being embroiled in two other scandals and by former CHP General Auditor Mahmut Yıldız. The signatures of former Kanaltürk owner Tuncay Özkan and three other top managers also appear on the document obtained by Star daily.

The paper described the agreement as "unethical" and said "it showed the dirty side of the relationship between politics and the media."

The agreement includes a special clause stipulating that the TV station cannot enter into similar agreements with other political party leaders or entities during the period the contract is in effect for. In addition to production and broadcasting favors, the contract calls for the appointment of a CHP member to Kanaltürk's Board of Directors. The TV station also agreed to transfer 40 percent of its shares as collateral to the CHP.

While acknowledging the existence of such an agreement, CHP General Auditor Mustafa Özyürek defended the party's actions yesterday, saying: "There was no illegal activity here. It was a contract between the CHP and Kanaltürk and both parties fulfilled their obligations, so the case was closed." Özyürek also noted that the contract's contingency clauses, including the transfer of shares or the appointment of a CHP member to the station's Board of Directors, had never been utilized. He claimed that those articles were placed in the contract as a preventative measure to ensure that the agreement was complied with.

A state prosecutor filed a legal inquiry with the Constitutional Court in April, seeking a probe of the CHP and its past money transfers to Kanaltürk. A possible Constitutional Court verdict may order the CHP to reimburse the Treasury for the amount of undocumented money. However, party leaders could then be tried individually, experts note.

Özkan, known for his ultra-nationalist stance, was believed to have established Kanaltürk to support the CHP in 2004. However, in a surprise move last month, he sold Kanaltürk to the Koza Davetiye Group, owner of liberal Bugün daily.

The CHP now stands accused of having violated a provision of the Law on Political Parties that prohibits political parties from carrying out activities "outside the stated purpose." According to other articles of the same law, giving or receiving donations, loans or credit in violation of the law makes party officials liable to a sentence of six months to one year in prison. The case might be grounds for closure under the Constitution. The Constitutional Court is expected to announce a decision when it finishes reviewing the accounts; however, the party administration has so far denied any wrongdoing.

CHP leader Deniz Baykal acknowledged in a program on CNN Türk in April 2007 that his party transferred money to Kanaltürk. "Nothing disturbs us about this money transfer. We signed a deal with Kanaltürk for the CHP's promotion and publicity activities. The money transfer is not in violation of our legal system. We will sign similar deals with Kanal D and ATV in the coming months," Baykal is alleged to have said.

In a similar case of unaccounted-for political party funds in 1997, a criminal complaint was filed against the Welfare Party (RP) with the top court. When YTL 2.6 million of the party's funds allocated from the Treasury ended up in private bank accounts, RP leader Necmettin Erbakan was barred from engaging in politics and sentenced to time in prison along with several other party officials.

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Güncelleme Tarihi: 04 Haziran 2008, 08:04