Faruk Bildirici, a member of the opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and a member of the board of the Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTÜK), Türkey’s broadcast watchdog authority, was removed his post on Thursday.
“I’ve been saying it from day one. Everyone who lives in this country has a right to know what goes on at RTÜK. It needs to be transparent. As a RTÜK member, for the past 3.5 months I have strived for the transparency of the institution and to save it from the backyard of the government,” Bildirici said.
While arguing that RTÜK is governed by an executive system, Bildirici said that the president makes decisions on a number of topics as he wishes without feeling the need to consult the board.
Referring to his dismissal as something that is a first in RTÜK’s 25-year-history, he said that he hoped the decision would be overturned in court.
Citing the broadcast of a promotional film prepared by a pro-government foundation celebrating the anniversary of the 1071 Battle of Manzikert victory of the Selçuk Empire over the Byzantine Empire as a public service announcement, last month Bildirici – a former media ombudsman – criticized a recent amendment it approved concerning how public service announcements are labeled.
“By changing the manner in which public service announcements and mandatory broadcasts are labeled, the aim is to fool viewers and all of society,” said RTÜK board member Faruk Bildirici, who was critical of the majority-approved decision.
“Without changing the format, content or legal statutes regarding public service announcements and mandatory broadcasts, only the label is being changed. By doing this, the aim is to increase viewership of government propaganda and ministerial promotional material that is broadcasted for free,” Bildirici said.
The RTÜK amendment will change the labeling of ‘mandatory broadcast’ to ‘preferred broadcast’.
According to Bildirici, 30-45 second commercial broadcasts on radio or television are normally quite expensive, but if they are designated as a public service announcement or a mandatory broadcast, they are free. As such, RTÜK receives a large number of applications for public service announcements, and many of these come from government ministries.