The birds of Turkey

The birds of Turkey

Pied avocet, desert lark, common myna, red-fronted serin, rock bunting and red-throated diver… I can count several more bird species from the documentary broadcast on Thursday evening.

On Thursday at 8:30 p.m., I switched to Bugün TV to watch the “Gündem Özel” (Exclusive Agenda) program. It was a TV debate featuring Tarık Toros from Bugün TV, Erhan Bayurt and Adem Yavuz Arslan from daily Bugün, and Faruk Mercan from Kanaltürk, which is held every Thursday evening.

However, instead of the program, there was a documentary about the “Birds of Turkey.” Why was there a documentary instead of a TV debate? I was able to understand with the Supreme Election Board (YSK) decision posted on the screen.

The Supreme Board of Radio and Television (RTÜK) had consulted the YSK. According to RTÜK law, “Broadcasts cannot only be including one-sided opinions about political parties and democratic groups.

Broadcasts cannot take a side against the other.” This is fantastic. There is also a YSK decision complementing this: “Written and visual media, which are obliged to respect the principles of impartiality, reality and accuracy, have to provide equal opportunities to political parties by not making one-sided publications and broadcasts.”

The YSK made this decision last year. Especially while elections are nearing, all television stations and newspapers will provide equal opportunities to all political parties through impartial broadcasts and publications. Of course, a matchless democracy comes with a media that is the fortress of impartiality.

As luck would have it, it is only “Gündem Özel” that violates the impartiality law. RTÜK warns and YSK decides with the following correlation:

“[The program] was observed to be one-sided, whereas it should have included diversified opinions to provide multiple voices instead of one-sided opinions only criticizing the Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) performance on topics such as the HSYK, the re-postings in the police, the independence of the judiciary in the context of the Dec. 17 process.”

The YSK has decided by a majority of votes that the program violated the law and the program has been suspended from broadcast for once. “If the violations continue, other penalties will be exerted…”

Hello RTÜK 

An official letter arrived at Bugün TV from the RTÜK and a CD. The letter told them that the program had been stopped and the CD contained the documentary “Birds of Turkey” made by TRT.

I want to cry out loud, “For Pete’s sake, which one of the pro-government TV stations broadcast impartially and plurally?” All of them, all day long, broadcast Tayyip Erdoğan’s every step live. In their programs that are supposed to be debates there is not one single counter view, even just for show.

Where is the RTÜK for them? It isn’t there. If there is a “Hello Fatih,” there is also “Hello RTÜK.” What about the Supreme Election Board? Isn’t it an independent justice body? Doesn’t the YSK see other channels? We will hold an election with this YSK, right?

The YSK penalty is very clear: Since this program is questioning the “Dec. 17 process, the claims of corruption and the rest” then it is definitely guilty.

“Gündem Özel” continued the debate in another program named “Farklı Bakış” (Diverse View) the other day on Kanaltürk, hosting Derya Sazak, who has written a magnificent book on today’s media.
What about the birds? They are flying toward “Hello RTÜK” and the YSK.

The Feb 28 perceptions

Feb. 28, 1997: “Reactionaryism is the biggest threat.” Feb 28, 2014: “The community is the biggest threat.”

Feb. 28, 1997: “Green capital should be stopped.” Feb 28, 2014: “If major capital does not take sides, it will be swept aside.”

Feb. 28, 1997: “Generals are writing the headlines.” Feb 28, 2014: “Hello Fatih is writing the headlines.”

Feb. 28, 1997: “Fire these journalists.” Feb 28, 2014: “Many journalists are being fired, jailed; Turkey is in 55th place for press freedom in the world.”

Feb. 28, 1997: “There are no prosecutors, judges and police who are being reposted.” Feb 28, 2014: “Hundreds of prosecutors, judges, police and even TÜBİTAK scientists are being reposted.”

Feb. 28, 1997: “The post-modern coup Feb. 28 will last a thousand years.” Feb. 28, 2014: See 1997.

Yalçın Doğan is a columnist for daily Hürriyet in which this piece was published on March 1. It was translated into English by the Daily News staff.