Top court finds rights violation in 3-day advertising ban imposed on Cumhuriyet daily

Turkey's Constitutional Court

Turkey’s Constitutional Court has ruled that a three-day advertising ban imposed on the pro-opposition Cumhuriyet daily in 2013 was a violation of the right to freedom of speech and freedom of the press, Turkish Minute reported, citing Deutsche Welle Turkish service.

The court on March 10 said the ban imposed by Turkey’s Press Advertising Agency (BİK), the state body responsible for regulating publicly funded advertisements in the media, violated the newspaper’s right to freedom of speech and freedom of the press, also ordering a retrial for annulment of the decision that caused the violation.

BİK had imposed the three-day advertising ban on Cumhuriyet over a reference to an insulting statement by then-prime minister and current President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in a 2013 article by columnist Cüneyt Arcayürek, who died in 2015.

According to DW, Arcayürek’s article included references to Erdoğan’s statements during a argument between him and a farmer named Kemal Öncel in the southern province of Mersin back in 2006, a few years after Erdoğan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) came to power.

Öncel and Erdoğan quarreled after the farmer said, referring to the then-prime minister’s visit to Mersin and the financial difficulties faced by farmers in the province, “What will the situation of the farmers be? How can he be so shameless as to come here?”

Arcayürek’s piece included references to Erdoğan’s statement to the farmer, “Don’t cop an attitude [with me], man!”

According to a previous report by DW, BİK issued a total of 808 days of advertising bans on dailies in 2020, with 97 percent of them imposed on BirGün, Sözcü, Cumhuriyet, Korkusuz and Evrensel, all newspapers critical of the Turkish government.

A 2021 report by the IPS Communication Foundation, which listed the top media outlets in Turkey in terms of audience, identified as part of the Reporters Without Borders’ (RSF) Media Ownership Monitor (MOM) project, revealed that eight daily newspapers among the top 10 most read belong to owners affiliated with the ruling AKP.

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