Turkish media watchdog probes opposition TV channels over election night broadcasts

Turkey’s Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTÜK) announced that an investigation was launched against opposition channels Fox TV, TELE1, Halk TV, KRT, TV 5, Flash Haber, and Szc TV for their election night broadcasts on May 28.

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Turkey's Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTÜK) has launched investigations against several prominent opposition television channels for allegedly broadcasting speeches that insulted the public and attempted to humiliate the nation. The announcement came shortly after the presidential runoff election results were declared on May 28.

The broadcasters under scrutiny include Fox TV, TELE1, Halk TV, KRT, TV 5, Flash Haber, and Szc TV. These channels are being investigated on the grounds of their post-election coverage, which allegedly contained content deemed offensive and derogatory towards the Turkish public.

The RTÜK on May 30 shared a tweet and stated, “On the evening of the election day when the national will was manifested, FOX TV-programmer Çiğdem Toker's statements such as 'Democracy is not just about the ballot box' and the entire broadcast started to be investigated by our experts. Following the finalization of the report, the file will be placed on the agenda at the first Supreme Board meeting.”

The media watchdog also said that the institution received “intense complaints from the viewers” for the other TV channels. 

RTÜK Chair Ebubekir Şahin also stated, “We will not remain silent against these attitudes of those who do not respect the national will, democracy, and election results, and those who insult our people and try to humiliate our beloved nation."

A months-long election propaganda process has been undertaken in a highly skewed ground in favor of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, especially in the media. While the pro-government TV channels have been dominating the media scene, few independent TV channels faced oppression of the RTÜK and the organization's enormous fines.