The Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTÜK), Turkey’s broadcasting regulator, has imposed a total of 570 sanctions on TV stations since the beginning of the year, Turkish Minute reported on Tuesday, citing the Gazete Duvar news website.
The data were revealed by Minister of Culture and Tourism Mehmet Nuri Ersoy in response to questions recently asked by main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) lawmaker Ahmet Vehbi Bakırlıoğlu and nationalist opposition İYİ (Good) Party MP Selcan Taşçı during budget discussions in parliament.
RTÜK is under the jurisdiction of the Culture and Tourism Ministry.
“Why are significant penalties imposed on opposition channels while no penalties are applied to media outlets close to the government? Is RTÜK undertaking these activities in line with its founding objectives?” was among the questions asked by the MPs.
The minister said in response that no distinction is made between pro and anti-government broadcasting organizations in audits conducted by the council’s experts.
He said 85 percent of the 570 penalties were imposed on media organizations that threatened public values, aimed to mislead viewers or did not comply with commercial communication regulations.
Rights groups routinely accuse the Turkish government of trying to keep the press under control by imprisoning journalists, closing down media outlets, overseeing the purchase of media brands by pro-government conglomerates and using regulatory authorities to exert financial pressure, especially after President Erdoğan survived a coup attempt in July 2016.
RTÜK is accused of contributing to increasing censorship in the country by imposing punitive and disproportionate sanctions on independent television and radio stations critical of the Turkish government.