Serdar Alan / Gazete Duvar
Turkey’s opposition has been continuing to criticize state-run TRT’s broadcasting policy since Turkey entered the propaganda process for the parliamentary and presidential elections in 2023. Ahead of the second round of presidential elections that will be held on May 28, the main opposition Republican People’s Party’s (CHP) Radio and Television Supreme Council’s (RTÜK) member Tuncay Keser drew attention to the TRT News’ policy of airing “documentary-like propaganda” for the government.
Keser found that one fourth of the day was devoted to government propaganda with documentary-like commercials titled "100 Years on the Road to Development," "National Power - Powerful Turkey," "100 Years on the Road to Democracy," and "Turkey with Our Cities" aired on the TRT News.
Keser stated that the TRT airs documentaries prepared for the government propaganda 15-20 times a day. The documentaries last between 9 and 12 minutes and cover topics such as nuclear energy, education, national defense, transportation, health, presidential system, or the conversion of Hagia Sophia to a mosque.
For instance, the TRT news on May 21 aired the said documentaries nearly for two hours along with the speeches from the ruling People’s Alliance for 3 hours 40 minutes. Between May 18 and 24, the TRT screened these documentaries a total of 157 times. Additionally, the government and its allies dominates the newcasts in the state TV whereas opposition politicians receive only minutes of screen time.
Keser reminded that Supreme Election Council (YSK) has set principles for the broadcasts during the propaganda period and that broadcasting organizations cannot screen one-sided and partisan broadcasts. He added, "To date, there has been no audit on whether these principles have been followed (in the TRT). Neither the YSK nor the RTÜK has taken any steps."
The RTÜK member stated that the TRT even aired propaganda videos such as these documentaries on the election date despite the propaganda ban. Keser said that these “documentaries” are classified as state commercials; hence, they are free propaganda for the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP). “These acts constitute a very clear crime. The TRT management has been abusing its office and committing a crime. The administration undermines the rule of law, electoral justice, and democracy," he added.
Prior to elections on May 14, the opposition politicians often stated that the TRT and state owned Anadolu Agency act as manipulation tools under the control of the government even though they should provide independent oversight as publicly funded institutions. Both showed President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s vote share very high from the official results throughout the election night and attracted criticism.
(English version by Can Bodrumlu)