Turkey's media watchdog suspends TV program over journo's remarks critical of Erdoğan

Turkey's media watchdog RTÜK has issued a monetary fine on TV channel Tele 1 and suspended one of its programs for five episodes as a result of journalist Sedef Kabaş's comments critical of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Meanwhile, the ruling AKP provincial branches have simultaneously filed criminal complaints against Kabaş as well as two main opposition CHP deputies who had appeared as guests on the program.

Duvar English

Following an extraordinary meeting on Jan. 24, Turkey's Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTÜK) imposed a monetary fine on opposition TV channel Tele 1 over comments made by journalist Sedef Kabaş during a program called “Demokrasi Arenası” (Democracy Arena).

The penalty was announced by Okan Konuralp, RTÜK member from the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP), on social media.

“RTÜK has given a penalty of suspending Democracy Arena, presented by Uğur Dündar, for five weeks and a 5% monetary fine on charges of 'inciting the public into hatred and animosity.' The penalty is for the program which hosted journalist Sedef Kabaş, who has been arrested over her comments,” Konuaralp tweeted.

He said that the TV channel had been imposed another 3 percent monetary fine for broadcasting the reaction against Kabaş's arrest.

Kabaş was jailed on Jan. 22 pending trial on charges of “insulting” Erdoğan. The alleged insult was in the form of a palace-related proverb that Kabaş expressed on the relevant program.

Konuralp also announced that another opposition TV channel Fox TV was imposed a monetary fine of 3 percent over the comments of new anchor Selçuk Tepeli.

RTÜK head Ebubekir Şahin last week said that an investigation was launched into Tepeli on the grounds of “violation of the principle of impartiality” after the anchor criticized Erdoğan's economic policies.

AKP branches file criminal complaints against Kabaş in 81 provinces

Meanwhile, in Turkey's 81 provinces, the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) branches have simultaneously filed criminal complaints against journalist Kabaş as well as main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) deputies Engin Özkoç and Aykut Erdoğdu --- all of whom had appeared as guests on the live broadcast on Tele 1.

Following the criminal complaints, the AKP provincial branches released a joint statement, referring to Kabaş as “miserable” and “a so-called journalist” and accusing her of not respecting the media principles and ethics.

Officials of the AKP Muş provincial office are seen in front of the courthouse on Jan 24.