‘RTÜK (the Radio and Television Higher Board) is being used as a tool to suppress the media’

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The decisions RTÜK has taken the last eight years have showed the heavy fines imposed upon media providers. The media were fined in eight years 16.043 times for a total of 241 million Turkish Liras. İsmet Demirdöğen, member of the RTÜK from the opposition party CHP, stated that RTUK is used as a tool to suppress the media.

Hayri Demir

RTÜK fined the media 16.043 times and 241 million Turkish Liras in eight years (2010-2018). İsmet Demirdöğen, member of the RTÜK from the opposition party CHP, stated that RTÜK is being used as a tool to supress the media. The numbers of the RTÜK fines came to light following the parliamentary question of CHP İstanbul MP Gamze Akkuş İlgezdi.

According to the reply of the Minister of Culture and Tourism Mehmet Nuri Ersoy, the media were fined the last eight years 16.043 times. Distribution by year is as follows: in 2010 782, in 2011 629, in 2012 1.287, in 2013 4.000, in 2014 2.239, in 2015 1.482, in 2016 1.617, in 2017 1.818 and in 2018 1.559 fines.

241 Million Turkish Liras in fines

In addition to these fines, 1.184 media companies were fined with 230.715.672 Turkish Liras for violation of the law no. 4250 and 138 media companies were ordered to pay in total 11.327.439 Turkish Liras in administrative fines for violation of the law no. 4250. The total amount of fines in eight years is 241.503.111 Turkish Liras.

313 PROGRAMS OFF THE AIR, 38 LICENSES REVOKED

 Between 2010 and 2018 RTUK ordered programs off the air on the media 313 times. In the same period, 37 broadcasting licenses were also revoked.

İsmet Demiröğen, CHP member of RTUK, made a statement about this issue to the Halagazeteciyiz.net.

RTÜK IS A TOOL TO PUT PRESS ON THE OPPOSITION

İsmet Demirögen

Demiröğen, who has been occupying this position for around 3 years, brought up the criticism that RTUK is used as a tool by the government to silence the opposition press. Demiröğen said that “When opposition broadcasts or, in another sense, proper journalism disturbs the rulers, they are faced with severe sanctions.” According to Demiröğen, although most of these sanctions are against TV series, newscasts also get their share.

Demiröğen indicated that the number of programs pulled off the air is increasing in the last years. He said that “In the past, AKP had removed media blackout sanctions because of its democratization promise and the EU membership harmonization process. But after the 15 July coup attempt the ruling AKP took the opportunity and came back to the previous situation. Closing down broadcasting programs is a result of this opportunity. Although most of these sanctions were against broadcasts which abuse weakness of the people, in the last years, opposition media are sanctioned as well. Recently, RTUK also ordered programs off the air especially from channels like Halk TV and FOX TV.”

‘FINES USED AS GOVERNMENT’S STICK’

Demiröğen stated that RTUK must be sober regarding sanctions. He said that “In the last three years, struggle with channels which make fun of the public health and turn it into a means for making money has increased. But, on the other hand, RTUK has become a tool mostly to supress and discipline the media through fines. The government wants to discipline the media of the opposition through fines. The fines are used a stick of the government.”

Another point Demiröğen indicated is the collection of administrative fines. He said that “Fines are not collected” and indicated the report of the Court of Accounts. According to the 2017 audit report of the Court of Accounts, RTUK collected only 49% of the fines in the last five years. Although the amount of administrative fines between 2013 and 2017 is 196.000.000 Turkish Lira, only 49% of it could be collected. As the amount of collected money is decreasing every year, Demiröğen indicated that fines are not collected especially from broadcasting organizations that are fined because of forgery.

Translation: İrem Aki