Turkey’s media watchdog to be given punishment authority for election broadcast violations
MELTEM ÖZGENÇ ANKARA
DHA PhotoTurkey’s media watchdog will be given the authority to fine TV channels that violate election broadcast limitations, according to a new omnibus bill presented to parliament, de-authorizing the High Election Board (YSK).
The media watchdog, the Supreme Board of Radio and Television (RTÜK), will take over the authority to issue warnings and fines to broadcasters for election violations, instead of the YSK, which currently holds the authority, if the bill is passed by parliament.
Opposition parties have reacted against the bill, claiming that it is a move to protect pro-government broadcasters.
Ali Öztunç, an RTÜK member from the Republican People’s Party (CHP) quota, said the changes marked “an intervention into objective broadcasting.”
“During last year’s local and presidential elections, TV stations said to be in favor of the government were given large fines on the grounds that they violated objectivity. [The new] regulation’s goal is to protect them. Pro-government channels will be able to completely broadcast one-sidedly,” said Öztunç.
Esat Çıplak, an RTÜK member from the Nationalist Movement Party’s (MHP) quota, warned of the
dangers of “unilateralism” and also predicted that pro-government TV channels may not be fined after the new regulation enters into force.
“With this change, the YSK is running away from criticism and giving it to RTÜK. The objectivity of RTÜK is doubted due to infringements during the election period,” said Çıplak, suggesting that TV channels that are “fed by the government may no longer be fined.”
Currently, RTÜK reports violations to the YSK and if the latter deems that a violation has been committed it must fine the broadcaster within 12 days.