Opposition given little airtime to speak

Opposition given little airtime to speak

Let’s refresh our memories first. 

The sanction power of the Supreme Board of Elections (YSK) on private television broadcasters was nulled with the emergency decree number 687, which came into force on February 2017.

The sanctions power of the YSK, especially in the elections season, is now history. Private broadcasters, with the ruling, are more prone than ever to political bias in terms of coverage and the airtime they give.

With this decree, pro-government networks, especially, breathed sighs of relief.

One could argue that a private broadcaster has the right to “support whichever candidate it pleases and disregard candidates it has no sympathy for” in a high school debate platform. One could even win that debate with such an argument.

You might not care about journalistic values and the responsibilities that come with the profession and could put them on the back burner.

Publishing and serving fair and impartial content might not be your problem, as you already have a homogenized audience. But this is if you are a private broadcaster.

If you are a state-run one, instead, and owe your existence to the taxes collected from citizens and declare that you carry the mission to serve the public, things change.

You have a serious responsibility for all spectrums of the public. You need to stand equally distant to all people coming from different political backgrounds.

That, at least, should be the case.

Looking at the current situation in Turkey, you could laugh and ask me what I am talking about.

However, the standards do not change with the current situation. The professional requirements stand tall.

And what is the current situation?

A news report prepared by Sinan Tartanoğlu for daily Cumhuriyet and based on a study run by the Turkish Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTÜK) could give us some ideas.

Ever since Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli made a call on April 17 and said “Why should we wait until November 2019 [for the elections]?” here is how the state broadcaster gave parties airtime until May 6.

State-run broadcaster TRT has given 37 hours, 40 minutes and 2 seconds of airtime to the alliance between the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the MHP.

On the other hand, the same channel has given three hours, 13 minutes and 58 seconds of airtime to the opposition bloc.

But let me also make it clear that some opposition parties, such as the Kurdish issue-focused Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) and the Felicity Party (SP), have received no airtime at all.

Looking at this picture, it only makes sense to reach out to the opposition to bring justice to the situation and not ask the TRT: Whatever you, the opposition parties, are going to say, say it fast. There are others who cannot even get those three hours of airtime.

airtime, broadcaster, TRT, RTÜK, YSK, elections, politics, Turkey, opinion, candidates, media, bias, opposition, media freedom, CHP, MHP, AKP, SP