Int’l media freedom organizations call on Turkish media watchdog to end suppression of opposition

Some 20 international organizations working in the field of press freedom have reacted against the Turkish media watchdog RTÜK's fines against opposition channels. On April 5, RTÜK imposed a 3 percent revenue fine against Fox TV, Halk TV, and Tele 1 over journalists’ remarks in criticism of the government.

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Some 20 international organizations active in the fields of press freedom, freedom of expression, and human rights issued a joint statement against the April 5-dated decision of Turkey's Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTÜK) to fine opposition channels Fox TV, Halk TV, and TELE 1.

"We view these incidents as part of the Turkish government’s systematic attempt to stifle critical reporting and to control the information flow ahead of Turkey’s presidential and parliamentary elections on May 14, 2023," the joint statement said.

The organizations stated that instead of upholding freedom of expression and media pluralism in the country, RTÜK is being weaponized by the rulership to silence legitimate criticism ahead of the May 2023 elections. “This suppression of public debate is undermining the electoral process,” they added.

The statement highlighted that RTÜK in 2022 imposed fines disproportionately as independent TV channels received significantly higher penalties compared to pro-government channels.

A total of 54 penalties were issued to five independent broadcasters in 2022, resulting in fines of 17.3 million liras (approximately 823,000 euros). On the other hand, pro-government channels only received four penalties, with fines amounting to 1.7 million liras (about 80,000 euros) in total. 

The statement was signed by: The Association of European Journalists, ARTICLE 19, Articolo 21, the Coalition For Women In Journalism (CFWIJ), the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), Danish PEN, English PEN, the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF), the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ), Freedom House, the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), the International Press Institute (IPI), the Media and Law Studies Association (MLSA), OBC Transeuropa (OBCT), PEN International, the Platform for Independent Journalism (P24), Reporters Without Borders (RSF), the South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO), Swedish PEN, and the World Association of News Publishers (WAN-IFRA).