Turkey’s media watchdog fines 2 TV stations due to critical reporting

The Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTÜK), Turkey’s broadcasting and streaming regulator, has fined two TV stations due to their content critical of ruling party or government members, the Turkish Minute reported.

The fines were announced on X on Friday by İlhan Taşcı, a member of RTÜK appointed from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP).

NOW TV has been slapped with a fine due to one of its reports, when its cameras caught an exchange of text messages between ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) lawmaker and former minister Mustafa Varank and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s son, Bilal Erdoğan, in parliament last month.

Varank was seen in the video sending a lobster emoji to Bilal Erdoğan at a time when AKP lawmaker Şebnem Bursalı was under fire for sharing a photo of a lavish dinner, a lobster feast she had at a yacht club in Monaco, on social media amid the country’s economic problems.

NOW TV was also fined due to a report about Deputy Justice Minister Ramazan Can, who was caught by the station’s cameras while responding to text messages on his mobile phone that were allegedly from members of the judiciary who were seeking his support for promotion.

The TV station has been ordered by RTÜK to pay a 2 percent administrative fine on one month’s advertising revenue for “violation of privacy.”

TELE1 TV has been fined by RTÜK, also 2 percent of its advertising revenue, due to the remarks of a guest speaker, politician Rıfat Serdaroğlu, who accused some politicians of acting like “palace troops,” referring to the presidential palace of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, while he was criticizing those politicians due to their absolute loyalty to Erdoğan. Serdaroğlu’s remarks were found to have exceeded the limits of criticism by RTÜK, which imposed the fine by a majority vote of its members.

It is common for pro-opposition news channels in Turkey to face restrictions and fines on their broadcasting through sanctions imposed by RTÜK, whose board members are appointed in proportion to the number of seats held by political parties in parliament, meaning that the ruling AKP currently dominates the agency.

Turkey, which has been suffering from a poor record of freedom of the press for years, ranks 158th among 180 countries in Reporters Without Borders’ (RSF) World Press Freedom Index published on Friday on the occasion of the World Press Freedom Day.

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