Turkey banned television dating shows with a new state of emergency decree published in the Official Gazette on April 29.
Ankara declared a state of emergency after the July 15, 2016 military coup attempt, widely believed to have been orchestrated by the movement of the U.S.-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen, and has been issuing decrees ever since.
With the latest decree, hugely popular television dating shows were banned, as signaled by Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmuş in March.
Kurtulmuş had said a ban was in the pipeline, arguing that the shows “do not fit in with Turkish traditions.”
“There are some strange programs that damage the institution of the family, taking away its nobility and sanctity,” he said on March 16.
“God willing, in the near future, we will remedy this with a state of emergency decree. Efforts are at their latest stage,” Kurtulmuş added.
With the new decrees, advertising for matchmaking services has also been outlawed.
“In radio and television broadcasts, shows where people are introduced to each other and/or brought together to find friends ... cannot be made,” said the Official Gazette on April 29.
A government official claimed to Reuters that the dating show ban would only apply to satellite channels that “do advertising for sexual products,” and not to prime time television.
Ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) officials say dating shows receive thousands of complaints every year and the Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTÜK) levels fines against them for violations of broadcasting principles almost every week.
According to the decree law, stations that violate the ban more than 20 times per year will not be able to broadcast for up to five days.
Meanwhile, the decree also introduced new regulations to telemarketing programs that promote and sell food supplements and similar products, saying broadcasts against these health rules must not be aired.
In addition, “programs and TV series encouraging family life” will be promoted in cooperation with the Family and Social Policies Ministry.
Commenting on the decrees, main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) Istanbul lawmaker Sezgin Tanrıkulu said such sweeping laws “remove the function of parliament” and address issues unrelated to security or the state of emergency.
“Was the coup attempt staged by marriage programs? Was the state of emergency issued to address marriage programs?” Tanrıkulu told daily Birgün on April 29, adding that the latest decrees “include regulations that are against basic human rights.”