The reign of AKP ended at Turkey's TV watchdog

The reign of AKP ended at Turkey's TV watchdog

Let us leave aside discussions on coalitions and an early election.

There are certain things that are certain: At the very least, we know that the Justice and Development Party (AKP) will not be able to use the Supreme Board of Radio and Television (RTÜK) high-handedly. 

For many years, RTÜK had five members from the AKP, two members from the Republican People’s Party (CHP) and one each from the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP). The majority belonged to the AKP.  

On July 15, the terms of three members are ending. Election for the vacant seats will be done according to the seat distribution of the new parliament. However you slice it, the number of AKP members will go down to four; in other words the AKP will lose its majority at RTÜK. 

What will change in our lives? Well, for starters, the media will be freer. 

Let’s say the Gezi Park incidents happened today… There will not be attempts to close down the opposition Hayat television channel because it “does not have a license.”

Those pressures exerted on the media through RTÜK will come to an end. Artificial fines will not be imposed through instructions of the political authority. Penalties will not be used as a tool of revenge. Media organs will not be “tamed” with fines and closure. 

Let us say the Dec. 14, 2014, operation against suspected Gülenists happened today… RTÜK would not be able to fine the Samanyolu Broadcasting Group 1 million Turkish Liras because they made news stories out of what actually happened. 

RTÜK will not be able to go to court every other day to demand media blackouts. It will not be able to facilitate 155 media blackouts over four years. 

If questions on the exams for civil personnel are stolen tomorrow, we will be able to report it. When 34 people rape a 14-year-old girl, TV channels will broadcast this loudly.  

If 56 people die in Reyhanlı tomorrow, nobody will go to the court for a media blackout. 

Or, at least, the media blackouts decided by courts will not be transformed into widespread penalties by RTÜK; there will be no contradictions with European Court of Human Rights decisions. 

Media blackouts will not be tailored for persons or incidents. RTÜK will issue fines when it needs to issue fines.

For instance, RTÜK will not ignore the violation of the Reza Zarrab media blackout by Zarrab himself when he appeared on TV. It will not step in immediately, using the Zarrab media blackout as an excuse to dish out fines when there is a critical broadcast. 

RTÜK will not implement court decisions arbitrarily. 

Universal broadcasting principles will be back again. TV screens will be prevented from becoming tools to insult people. Especially the pro-government media will have to collect itself. Self-evident individuals will not be able to talk on channels targeting media groups, journalists and politicians. 

Nobody will be able to say on TV about a woman politician that “there is a video cassette on her” because slander will not be tolerated. 

RTÜK will not make it its mission to transform society into one that confirms to a certain moral mentality with the fines it metes out, stepping out of its duty to only regulate and monitor. 

It will not regard films, documentaries and music videos as obscene; it will not opt for sanctions citing moral criteria. 

It will not define an ordinary kissing scene on TV as “against morality.”

It will not implement a financial fine due to the outfits or manners of a singer. It cannot interfere with the substance of movie channels.

It will not, for instance, sentence a monetary fine for a movie that talks about the fight of people from the LGBT community against AIDS, saying it is forcing the limit of morality.

It will not, for instance, find the dancing of women with men to be against the Turkish family structure.
RTÜK will lose its mission as an organ enforcing censorship and a measuring stick of morality.
An important stronghold that the AKP used for its own interests has fallen.