Media watchdog warns Halk TV over humiliating PM
Halk TV experienced an unexpected spiked in popularity due to its 24-hour stream of the Gezi Park protests, making it one of the few Turkish stations to have detailed coverage of the protests. AFP photoTurkey’s media watchdog has issued a warning to Halk TV, due to a video clip which it deemed to be humiliating against Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
At a May 22 meeting, the Supreme Board of Radio and Television (RTÜK) evaluated an expert report concerning the video clip broadcast on Halk TV, Anatolia news agency reported June 3. Although it does not have an organic link with the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), the channel was known to have been financially supported by the CHP during the leadership of Deniz Baykal.
After being elected as the new leader in May 2010, current CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu reportedly cut the financial support to the channel, which is known for its anti-government broadcasts. The channel has become indispensible for many during the recent Taksim Gezi Park protests, as it has been one of the few channels devoting round-the-clock coverage to the coverage when many mainstream channels have shied away from reporting the events.
The expert report stated that Halk TV obtained a video from YouTube under the “Video Film-Most Viewed” category and ran it various times during a broadcast stream. On May 15, May 16 and May 17, a video of a song called “Shameful” by the Turkish rock group “Duman” was used along with pictures of Erdoğan.
When the lyrics stated “There is a mistake,” a picture of Erdoğan was used in the background, followed by a picture of Erdoğan shaking hands with George W. Bush, the former president of the United States, along with the lyrics “Don’t worry, we were fooled.” It was stated that the video was put together by a third person and had no connection with the music group.
In its report, RTÜK concluded that the video was prepared by a source that could not be determined but that the publication of the video was aimed at humiliating Erdoğan. The report also mentioned that Halk TV acted unethically by running a video containing heavy insults against the prime minister.
RTÜK made a decision to give a warning to Halk TV with a joint decision of the supreme committee, which included members from the CHP, Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP).
RTÜK underlines ‘editorial independence’
RTÜK President Davut Dursun referred to the principle of “editorial independence” today when he was reminded of the public criticism leveled at the media in Turkey about insufficiently covering the Gezi Park protests.
“Media organizations decide which news they will release on their own according to editorial independence. That’s why it wouldn’t be right for us to assess how they release news stories, but whenever media organizations are making news from events happening, they have to work responsibly and according to broadcasting principles. If there is a contravention, we will check them and do what is needed to be done,” Dursun said in response to questions from reporters.
“It is up to the media organizations to show interest to news or not. We cannot say ‘which news did you show or not,” Dursun said. “We cannot say, ‘Why did this media corporation release this news, why didn’t they cover the other event?’ we cannot question them like this, but they have to be objective. If there is any problem with objectivity, we will look for it and assess it. It won’t be a problem.”
Dursun also talked about the principles that the media organizations have to follow during crisis situations, saying these principles were prepared by the Turkish Television Broadcasters’ Association.
“During crises situations, broadcasts should be done according to the importance of freedom of speech,” Dursun said. “If the news were given according to these principles, we cannot say, ‘Why did you do this?’ but if there is a problem, we will assess it when it comes to us.”
News channel protested
An unexpected protest earlier today came in Maslak, the business center of Istanbul, where more than 2,000 people stood outside the Doğuş Media Center, the headquarters for NTV. Turkey’s top news television channel was widely criticized on social media for its lack of coverage of the protests. The channel then broadcast news of the protests outside its own office in its midday news bulletin. The crowd left the area after chanting slogans.