Gov’t asked to explain sale of media group, others

July 21, 2013, Sunday/ 16:19:00/ TODAY'S ZAMAN

The main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) on Monday submitted a censure motion against the government, requesting that it explain the latest sale of a media group to a Turkish consortium along with some other recent similar deals.

On Friday, the Turkish daily Akşam, TV channel Skytürk and radio station Alem FM, seized by the Savings Deposit Insurance Fund (TMSF) from the Çukurova Group in May due to outstanding debts, were sold to a joint venture by Cengiz, Limak and Kolin for TL 60 million. The sale came a month after the TMSF confiscation and some parties criticized the deal for being conducted hastily. The media group sale also sparked criticism, with people alleging that the government favors the joint venture group, also the winner of such critical tenders as new İstanbul airport.

Parliament had previously dismissed a number of motion votes submitted by the CHP as the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) blocked them with majority seats. The government has not reacted to the latest CHP move as of yet.

On May 17, the TMSF seized the three media outlets along with Show TV after Çukurova Holding violated its contract with the TMSF and failed to make payments on the media outlets' debt to the fund. Only 10 days later, the watchdog sold Show TV to conglomerate Ciner Group for $402 million.

CHP deputy head Umut Oran on Saturday brought the issue to Parliament, demanding that Deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan explain if the government favored certain companies over others in the sale of Akşam, Skytürk and Alem FM. Oran wanted Babacan to explain why the government sold Akşam and the other two without launching a tender in which other firms could also participate. He also asked how the government calculated the value of these three companies. Oran is also demanding, separately, that government explain the process of all TMSF seizures and sales between 2002 and 2012.

Cengiz, Limak and Kolin have drawn the attention of market players with the government tenders they have won over the past two years, including a 22.1-billion-euro tender to build İstanbul's airport and another $1.96-billion tender to run the metropolis' Boğaziçi Electricity Distribution Company (BEDAŞ) -- providing electricity to 4.2 million people. The joint venture also bids for building İstanbul's Haliç Marina.

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