Turkish entertainment TV channel suspends broadcasting, blaming government pressure

ANKARA, March 1 - Turkish entertainment channel Flash TV said on Friday it would suspend broadcasting due to "unbearable" political and financial pressure from the government.

On air since 1992, the station was one of Turkey's first private television channels. The broadcaster said the alleged government pressure included curbs on advertising.

"We are lowering our voice for some time due to unbearable pressure we have been experiencing for a long time. The unlawful application of government, administrative, political and financial pressure became intolerable," Flash said in a statement.

A government official was not immediately available for comment.

The statement from Flash said it was being targeted for its impartiality. The channel is mostly known for its hours-long music, traditional dancing and match-making programs.

President Tayyip Erdogan's government has shut down more than 150 media outlets which it said were linked to a coup attempt in the summer of 2016.

Free speech advocacy group Reporters Without Borders last year ranked Turkey 157 out of 180 countries in its annual report on global press freedom, and estimates about 90 percent of Turkey's newspaper coverage is pro-government.

Flash's Ankara representative and host of a morning news show Yilmaz Tunca said the channel had been left with no option but to go off air.

"The pressure we have been facing, including limitations on the advertisements, left us with nothing to do but turn off the switch," he told Reuters in his office in Ankara, speaking as he gathered his belongings, placing his books in boxes to move out.