RTÜK fines Turkish TV stations $41 million over past decade

The Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTÜK), a TV and radio regulatory watchdog in Turkey, announced on Wednesday that in the last decade — from Jan. 1, 2008 to Sept. 30, 2018 — it had fined Turkish television stations TL 235 million (more than $41 million), according to a report by online news outlet Diken.

According to the report, 60 percent of the fines imposed in 7,820 cases concerned violations of advertising and commercial regulations. A full 21,6 percent of the fines arose from procedural errors of newly established local or national TV channels.

While some 10 percent of the fines dealt with regulations to “protect the well being of youths and children,” 4,7 percent were for allegedly exceeding the boundaries of “private life.”

In the last five years the board has received some 800,000 complaints from viewers who were mostly uncomfortable with TV series, advertisements or news bulletins.

RTÜK was recently criticized for being too intrusive in TV programs and obligating television stations to self-censor by means of fines imposed. Turkish media reported several incidents in which famous foreign films, TV series and music clips were censored over the last five years.

Turkey is ranked 157th among 180 countries in the 2018 World Press Freedom Index released by Reporters Without Borders (RSF). If Turkey falls two more places, it will make it to the list of countries on the blacklist, which have the poorest record in press freedom.

Turkey is the biggest jailer of journalists in the world. The most recent figures documented by SCF show that 237 journalists and media workers were in jail as of October 7, 2018, most in pretrial detention. Of those in prison 169 were under arrest pending trial while only 68 journalists have been convicted and are serving their time. Detention warrants are outstanding for 148 journalists who are living in exile or remain at large in Turkey.

Detaining tens of thousands of people over alleged links to the Gülen movement, the government also closed down some 200 media outlets, including Kurdish news agencies and newspapers, after a coup attempt in Turkey on July 15, 2016.

(SCF with turkishminute.com)

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