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Licensing rights from shady prodictator network scrutinized

Issued: 2018-03-30

This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. ©2018 FOX News Network, LLC. All rights reserved. All market data delayed 20 minutes.

CNN Worldwide president Jeff Zucker accepts a licensing fee from the controversial, pro-Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan network CNN Turk.

CNN’s stand-alone Turkish network CNN Turk, which has long been criticized for being a tool of Turkey’s increasingly anti-American dictator, is getting a new owner, raising new questions about why CNN allows its storied name to be used by the controversial network — for a lucrative licensing fee.

A reported $890 million deal will hand control of CNN Turk and other key media outlets from the Dogan group, which paid CNN a license to independently operate the news network, to a conglomerate led by Erdogan Demiroren, an even stronger supporter of Turkish strongman Tayyip Erdogan, whose repressive policies have shuttered or disrupted dozens of media operations in recent years.

Fox News asked one of CNN’s highest ranking executives about whether the sale would cause CNN to reconsider licensing its name to CNN Turk.

“We will be meeting with the new owners in due course to discuss the implications of the sale.‎ If, following those conversations, we have any reason whatsoever to believe the journalistic integrity of the channel could be compromised by the new owners, we will revoke the license,” said Allison Gollust, CNN’s worldwide executive vice president and chief marketing officer.

It’s not clear, however, how much more CNN Turk’s oft-criticized “journalistic integrity” would have to suffer for the network to reconsider its relationship. Critics say the network that infamously aired a nature documentary about penguins - while thousands of Turkish protestors were being brutalized in the streets by Erdogan security forces back in 2013 - is already so far gone that it’s hard to imagine what will change.

"It is not that significant,” journalist Abdullah Bozkurt, who says he has been targeted by the Erdogan regime in the past, told Fox News about the sale, saying the previous ownership was “parroting Erdogan’s narrative anyway.”

Speaking before the sale, Bozkurt told the Daily Caller that “CNN Turk is already damaging the name and reputation of CNN brand.”

CNN boss Jeff Zucker has been accused of “getting rich” from state-controlled propaganda in Turkey.

Gollust noted that CNN Turk operates as “a wholly independent channel,” and editorial decisions are not made by CNN's stateside executives. However, the bio of CNN executive vice president Tony Maddow specifically says he “is responsible for an international news and information portfolio that includes… CNN Turk.”

Gollust said CNN licenses its brand to several channels around the world, but claimed her company isn’t getting a piece of this deal.

“Neither Time Warner, Turner nor CNN ‎would stand to profit in any way from the sale of Dogan empire,” she said. “We have no ownership nor financial interest whatsoever in CNN Turk, other than the license fee.”

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