Turkey’s TV Watchdog Imposes Broadcast Ban on FOX Prime, Public Arena

Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTÜK) imposed broadcast ban and various fines to FOX TV and Halk TV due the words of actor Metin Akpınar and Fox Prime News Anchorman Fatih Fortakal, which stirred outrage of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

As RTÜK fined Halk TV 80 thousand Turkish Lira ($15K), equivalent to 5 percent of advertisement revenue, and 5-day broadcasting ban to “Public Arena”, critical TV show hosted by famous anchor Uğur Dündar. FOX TV was also fined with 1 million TL ($190K) equivalent to 3 percent of advertisement revenue last month and order to stop broadcasting for three days.

Dündar Chides RTÜK Penalties

In response to RTÜK’s penalties given to Public Arena programme, aired on Halk TV, and FOX TV Prime News, Dündar said on social media that ‘five days broadcasting ban on Public Arena, 80,000 TL fine to Halk TV! Three day broadcasting ban on FOX TV prime News, 1 million TL fine! This is advanced democracy!”

In his second social media message Dündar said that “I wrote incomplete! RTUK also imposed additional 3 days broadcasting ban and 80,000 TL fined to my programme for the episode which Yılmaz Özdil (a Kemalist journalist) had attended! That means, we are off air till local elections.” 

RTÜK Member TAŞÇI Denounces the Penalties

Both RTÜK members, İsmet Demirdöğen and İlhan Taşcı, who were chosen as RTÜK members from the quota of Republican People’s Party (CHP), criticised the decision.

“The speed of which RTÜK took action after judgment of the President, is quite noteworthy . It is understood that fulfilling President’s order is RTÜK’s role and RTÜK carried out its duty,” said Taşçı, criticising the penalties. 

According to the law, RTUK, Turkey’s TV watchdog, seemed as an independent institution.

“I also expected this action from RTÜK, which quickly made a decision regarding those programmes in which the Founding Father of the Republic of Turkey, Atatürk, is criticised harshly. I also expected similar penalties against those programs, in which CHP Leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu was insulted with words close to swears. That is the right of every citizen who lives in Turkey.

While the words of Akpınar, in which he mentioned the worth of the protection, the peace and democracy, are fined, but in the statements, in which people is mentioning ‘cutting throats’, ‘bloodbath’ are not fined, and they are accepted as freedom of thought.

The mindset which is based on punishing the evaluations of the intellectuals, who ‘eat toast in the aisles of the courthouses ‘instead of upper class’ found a ground in the RTÜK in line with the spirit of the time.

RTÜK is not the yardstick over the press, and it should not be, and it has not been given permission to do this.

Some people expressed their worriedness towards the famous actors Metin Akpınar and Müjdat Gezen, but they should rather worry from where the country has reached, and our situation. Given and requested message is clear; don’t think, don’t criticise, don’t question and don’t speak.

If we adapt something from the France of De Gaulle, there is saying that ‘Sartre is France’, We say “Metin Akpınar and Müjdat Gezen are Turkey.” This means that Turkey’s famous satirists are judged and punished for their humor. Both actors have life experience in order not to be afraid of the punishment. On the contrary to the way of punishing them, have the meaning is that the long-awaited innocence, cheerful days are far away from us, and disgracing the freedom of thought.  

Democracy is a system in which, staying within the democratic limitation, everyone can use their freedom right without fear of any judgment or authority.

Fatih Portakal Decision

Many judgments of the “European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) are accepted in respect of press freedom; some expression can be found as disturbing, shocking and exaggerated.”

Press should speak the truth, even if this truth can be related to the ruling government or anger it. We make reference to press freedom solely in this circumstance without encouraging armed uprising and rebellion. These principles are fixed both in the national and international agreements and court orders in which Turkey tied with.

If the journalist will not think, criticise, question, speak or comment, what will they carry out in the name of public interests? We do not expect that from those journalists who write long news. Many journalists do it. If a journalist has a worry of being threatened while reporting somewhere, what can be said about freedom of the press and freedom of thought there. Then the main subject will be: ensuring the security of life.

In one of his sentences, Hitler’s Propaganda Minister Goebbels says that “Journalists should be like the keys of Piano. The key which we press should play.” A political power waits this from the journalists what mentioned is the sentence of Goebbels, but RTÜK should take side the journalist who rejected to be a tool of the politic power. Supreme board is not only a supervisor, but at the same time it should be an organisation, said Taşcı.

RTUK has turned into an execution office

Responding to the RTÜK penalty, İsmet Demirören said that “unfortunately RTÜK has turned into an execution office of those group who targeted people and organisation.

Continuing his criticism to the decision, Demirön said RTÜK has turned into an office to threat and to impose “paying the heavy price. Even the most innocent thoughts and explanations regarded as a crime by the certain group’s targets, additionally RTÜK is being used as a silencing tool of the politic power.”

Erdoğan Lawyer Files an Appeal to RTÜK Demanding TV Program Suspension

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