European Federation of Journalists

Turkey’s RTÜK becomes a permanent censorship institution

The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) has today backed its affiliate Turkish Journalists Association (TGC) in condemning new restrictions imposed on broadcasters by governmental decrees number 680 published on 06/02/2017.

The Executive Board of the Turkish Journalists Association (TGC) announced that the restrictions imposed on broadcasting by Radio and Television Authority (RTUK) officials represents a direct intervention to the profession of journalism and aims at making censorship as a permanent institution.

“The legislative decree has made amendments to the law that regulates Radio and television broadcasts in Turkey. According to these amendments, the broadcasts of any radio or television outlet that violates bans on airing any particular news, information or video would be stopped for one day. If the ban is violated for a second time, the broadcaster would be knocked off the air for a period of up to five days. If the bans are violated for a third time, the outlet could be silenced for a period up to 15 days by RTUK. If the same broadcaster violates the bans for a fourth time within a year, its license would be revoked”, reports TGC.

RTUK authorities circulated a memorandum in which a series of new restrictions were described. According to the memorandum, the broadcasters would only be allowed to announce briefly the news of terror incidents without going into such details as number of casualties nor would they be able to broadcast live from the site of the incident until an official announcement is made by the government authorities. The restrictions include broadcasting pictures from the scene, eyewitness accounts, videos of police vehicles, ambulances, fire engines and even newspaper pages with headlines about the terror incident.

“RTUK has exceeded the boundaries of its authority by declaring a wholesale ban on information, telling media organizations how it will carry out censorship and threatening to black out television screens. Such a behavior is unacceptable in democratic societies. The memorandum by RTUK is a direct intervention to the profession of journalism”, details TGC board in a statement.

Turkish Journalists Association sees this bold move beyond any measure by RTUK as the institutionalizing of censorship in Turkey. TGC has repeatedly declared that “bans on publication” should be an exception rather than a rule and such bans imposed after almost every incident moves Turkey away from democracy and freedom of the press.