Turkish public broadcaster receives penalty for pre-presidential election broadcasts
ISTANBULThe Supreme Election Board (YSK) has punished Turkey’s public broadcaster, the Turkish Radio and Television Corporation (TRT), for its one-sided broadcasts during the presidential election campaign earlier this year.
The YSK ordered TRT to suspend the screening of seven programs, as punishment for its one-sided live broadcasts ahead of the Aug. 10 presidential election that took place on 2014, according to daily Cumhuriyet.
The board determined that TRT broadcast a total of 5 hours 26 minutes and 3 seconds of live coverage of presidential candidate and then-Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s election campaign from Aug. 6 to 8. In the same period, the campaign of the Republican People’s Party (CHP) and Nationalistic Movement Party’s (MHP) joint candidate Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu, and the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) candidate Selahattin Demirtaş were not broadcast at all.
TRT Türk, TRT’s station aimed at Turks living abroad, was initially ordered to suspend the screening of six programs by the YSK, but this was increased to seven after TRT did not publish one section of the penalty’s justification.
In place of the suspended programs, TRT will have to broadcast documentaries.
While this is the most severe penalty that TRT has ever received in its 45 years of broadcasting history, TRT Türk holds 25 fines at the moment together with other penalties.
Süleyman Demirkan, a member of the Turkish media watchdog the Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTÜK), selected to the post through the CHP’s quota, said TRT’s current highly partisan situation was “a shame that will go down history.”
Both İhsanoğlu and Demirtaş constantly criticized TRT during the presidential election campaign for its allegedly biased coverage. However, TRT executives have argued that there is nothing wrong with broadcasting all of Erdoğan’s rallies and statements live and uninterrupted, despite several complaints filed by opposition parties.