Turkey’s media watchdog imposes sanctions on Halk TV due to journalist’s remarks

Turkey’s broadcasting watchdog, the Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTÜK), has imposed penalties on the pro-opposition Halk TV station due to the remarks of a journalist about a controversial group in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (KKTC), Turkish Minute reported, citing a RTÜK member.

İlhan Taşçı, a member of RTÜK from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), tweeted on Wednesday that RTÜK decided by a majority vote to impose a fine on Halk TV and suspend five broadcasts of one of its programs due to the remarks of journalist Ayşenur Arslan about the Turkish Resistance Organization (TMT).

The TMT was a Turkish Cypriot paramilitary organization formed by Rauf Denktaş, the founding president of the KKTC, and Turkish military officer Rıza Vuruşkan in 1958 to counter the Greek Cypriot National Organization of Cypriot Fighters (EOKA).

During a recent program on Halk TV, Arslan said the TMT was a “semi-official organization known for [carrying out] assassinations.”

Her remarks came during a discussion about the murder of a Turkish Cypriot mob boss, Halil Falyalı, earlier this month. Arslan said Falyalı had introduced himself as a member of the TMT.

Arslan’s remarks about the TMT also triggered criminal complaints against her filed last week by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), its far-right ally the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and the small, nationalist Grand Unity Party (BBP) accusing her of “insulting Turkey and the Turkish nation.”

RTÜK is a controversial agency that 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.

In a similar move last month, RTÜK imposed a fine on the pro-opposition Tele1 TV station and temporarily halted the broadcast of one of its programs due to the remarks of  journalist Sedef Kabaş that led to her arrest on charges of insulting the president.

According to Reporters Without Borders (RSF), 85 percent of the national media in Turkey is owned by pro-government businessmen and toe the official line.

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