The International Press Institute (IPI), the global network of editors, journalists, and media executives for press freedom, condemns the latest decision by Turkey’s broadcast regulator to fine several broadcasters over their critical election coverage. Journalists and broadcasters must be allowed to do their jobs of informing the public over critical issues and holding the government to account. 

On June 7, 2023, İlhan Taşçı, an opposition-nominated member of the Radio and Television High Council (RTÜK), said on Twitter that RTÜK had fined broadcasters FOX TV, Halk TV, TELE 1, and Flash Haber TV due to their critical coverage of elections.

RTÜK fined FOX TV after journalist Çiğdem Toker said that “democracy does not solely consist of the ballot box” during a live broadcast covering the presidential runoff election on May 28. FOX TV was fined five percent of its monthly ad revenue.

Halk TV was also fined five percent of its monthly ad revenue for ‘inciting public hatred and hostility’ after a politician said in one of its talk shows that he acknowledged the “legitimacy of the election outcome from a legal standpoint but not a political one”. At the time, he was criticizing the political participation of Syrian-born voters (Syrians who have been granted Turkish citizenship).

Meanwhile, TELE1 was fined three percent of its monthly ad revenue after one of its programmes discussed allegations of ballot irregularities during its election coverage.

RTÜK fined yet another channel, Flash Haber TV, for ‘humiliating Sinan Oğan’ after airing criticism of the former presidential candidate’s endorsement of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in the presidential runoff.

“Instead of punishing critical broadcasting and further pushing journalists into self-censorship, RTÜK should act according to its mandate and secure freedom of expression and media pluralism in the country”, IPI Deputy Director Scott Griffen said. He added: “IPI reiterates its call on the government to end the country’s crackdown on independent journalism and respect press freedom as an essential element of democracy.”