Turkish Journalists Association urges media watchdog to be ‘neutral’
Turkish Journalists Association (TGC) has slammed Radio and Television Supreme Council’s (RTÜK) decision to fine FOX TV, Halk TV, and Tele1, saying the ruling “is a direct intervention to the profession of journalism and is against the Constitution.”
“With this decision to fine, especially critical media outlets are being weakened economically and the public’s freedom to receive information is being violated,” TGC’s written statement asserted on Dec.27.
Media outlets’ “fear of penalty” is the biggest obstacle against the freedom of the press, the TGC also said.
“In compliance with our Constitution, freedom of press involves the freedom of receiving or giving information without the interference of public authorities. Thus, we urge RTÜK to be neutral and respect the freedom of press and expression and the Constitution in its rulings,” the TGC stated.
The TGC also stressed that RTÜK is a public body and needs to be objective.
“Of course freedom of expression is subject to certain limitations. Yet, this kind of approach from RTÜK will deter the press from discussing public issues and will lead to self-censorship,” the association said.
RTÜK has ordered a halt to a television program on Halk TV for five episodes, while also ruling for a fine over remarks of actors Metin Akpınar and Müjdat Gezen.
The president accused actors on Dec. 23 of threatening him “with death and a coup explicitly” for their remarks on the television program they had participated.
RTÜK slapped another three-episode ban on the program and fine over journalist Yılmaz Özdil’s remarks who said “Turkey would have been a better country today if President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had drunk a single beer.”
For Fox TV, RTÜK decided that Fatih Portakal, an anchorman, “made a call for street protests” and ruled a three-episode ban and fine on the main news bulletin.