Turkey’s public broadcaster, the Turkish Radio and Television Corporation (TRT), has been subordinated to the president’s office, according to a new presidential decree issued on Tuesday.
With the same decree, the Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTÜK) has been tied to the Culture and Tourism Ministry.
During election campaign periods in past years as well as in the run-up to the June 24 general and presidential elections of this year, TRT has been heavily criticized for discriminating against opposition parties while giving extensive coverage to the election campaigns of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his Justice and Development Party (AKP) government.
Most rallies for Erdoğan and the AKP are broadcast live by the station during election campaign periods.
Erdoğan was elected president again on June 24 and began his new term in office with sweeping executive powers under a presidential system.
Turkey switched to the presidential system from a parliamentary system after it was narrowly approved in a referendum held in April 2017.
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 240 journalists and media workers were in jail as of July 24, 2018, most in pretrial detention. Of those in prison 179 were under arrest pending trial while only 61 journalists have been convicted and are serving their time. Detention warrants are outstanding for 144 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)