Turkey’s Ethics Board finds media watchdog chair in breach of conflict of interest rules

Turkey's Public Officials Ethics Board has determined that the simultaneous roles held by media watchdog President Ebubekir Şahin within the organization and as a board member at cable TV firm TÜRKSAT are in breach of conflict of interest rules.

Ebubekir Şahin

Duvar English

Turkey’s Public Officials Ethics Board has ruled that Turkey’s Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTÜK) President Ebubekir Şahin violated the principle of “avoiding conflict of interest” because he served as a board member of cable TV firm TÜRKSAT while chairing the RTÜK. 

As the RTÜK supervises all radio and television institutions in the country, it also has a formal relationship with the TÜRKSAT.

When he was a member of RTÜK in 2019, Faruk Bildirici argued that Şahin's appointment at TÜRKSAT in addition to RTÜK was against the law and ethical principles and applied to the ethics board.

When the board decided that Şahin complied with ethical principles, Bildirici took the matter to the judiciary for the cancellation of this decision. An Ankara Administrative Court concluded that there was an ethical violation.

Following the court’s ruling, the board re-evaluated Bildirici's complaint and decided that Şahin had violated the principle of "avoiding conflict of interest” in a new unanimous decision on July 13.

Commenting on the verdict, Bildirici argued that Şahin should resign from RTÜK or be dismissed as a member since it is certain that he acted contrary to the law and the ethical principles of public officials.

Bildirici added, "The reason for Şahin's anger towards me was mainly because I objected to his board membership of the company. Since I did not give up my objections and took the matter to the judiciary and the ethics committee, they terminated my membership with the majority of the ruling party’s in RTÜK."

Following the termination of Bildirici's membership in RTÜK in October 2019, Şahin was forced to resign as a board member of TÜRKSAT in November 2019 due to public controversy.

Turkish media watchdog has nine members elected by the parliament from among members of political parties. The term of office of each member is six months.

Currently, there are five members from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), including the president, two members from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), and one each from the far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP).

As the ruling Islamist-Nationalist coalition People’s Alliance holds the majority in the institution, the RTÜK has recently been part of serious public controversy.

For instance, the RTÜK has lately decided to broadcast an anti-LGBTI+ rally’s promotion video as a “public service announcement” on national TV channels.