Turkey’s media watchdog fines media institutions 570 times in 2023

Turkey’s media watchdog RTÜK imposed 570 fines on various media institutions in 2023. Among them, 85 percent were directed against broadcasters that “threatened public health, aimed to mislead viewers, and failed to comply with commercial communication deadlines.”

Ceren Bayar / Gazete Duvar

Turkey's Culture and Tourism Minister Mehmet Nuri Ersoy stated that Radio and Television High Council (RTÜK) issued 570 fines on several broadcasters in 2023, as a response to the opposition lawmakers during budget talks.

Main opposition Republican People’s Party lawmaker Ahmet Vehbi Bakırlıoğlu and Good (İYİ) Party lawmaker Selcan Taşçı asked the minister, "Why are opposition broadcasters being fined very high amounts while those close to the government are not? Are these activities of the RTÜK in line with its founding objectives?"

In the response, the minister stated that 85 percent of the fines were imposed on broadcasters that “threatened public health, aimed to mislead viewers, and did not comply with commercial communication periods.”

In the reply, he also stated, "In the audits carried out by our high council experts, no distinction is made between broadcasting organizations, and the fact that they are 'opposition or close to the government' does not have any importance in terms of our experts and the audits carried out."

Peoples’ Equity and Democracy Party (DEM Party) deputy Sevilay Çelenk reminded that RTÜK approved to broadcast the public service announcement on rally title "Stop LGBT Propaganda" organized by the Istanbul Family Foundation and asked, "Why did the RTÜK make a public service announcement against LGBT?”

In the reply, Minister Ersoy said, "The council examines the informative and educational public service announcements prepared by public institutions and non-governmental organizations upon their request in line with the provisions of the relevant laws and recommends those that comply with the broadcasting principles." 

He added that the public service announcement was “within the scope of the relevant legislation.” The video prepared for the rally included various types hate speeches against the country’s already marginalized LGBTI+ community.

On the other hand, RTÜK has fined streaming services such as Netflix, Disney+, Amazon Prime Video, Mubi, Bein, and Blu TV for having shows “contrary to social and cultural values ​​and the Turkish family structure” mostly due to including “homosexual relationships.”

The fines that can be imposed by the RTÜK can include administrative fine, program suspension, or even license revocation.

(English version by Can Bodrumlu)