The IPI global network today condemned sanctions imposed by Turkey’s Radio and Television High Council (RTÜK) on six television channels – KRT, Fox TV, Haber Türk, Halk TV, TELE 1 and TR 35 – in response to the channels’ coverage of the most recent wildfires in southwestern Turkey.

The sanctions were imposed during a meeting of the Council on August 11, 2021. İlhan Taşçı, one of the RTÜK members nominated by the opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), was expelled from the meeting by the majority votes of RTÜK members from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and coalition partner Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) at the request of RTÜK Chair Ebubekir Şahin. Taşçı was banned from entering the council meeting over accusations that he made “comments reflecting bias” on social media posts where he announced the meeting to discuss fines on the channels.

“RTÜK has become little more than a political tool to pressure and intimidate critical and independent media outlets, both through severe monetary fines and threat-like warnings to stop media from covering significant events of public interest”, IPI Program Coordinator Renan Akyavaş said. “RTÜK’s politicized nature and decisions are a major danger to press freedom in Turkey. It is appalling and unacceptable that a member is not allowed to enter a meeting for opposing RTÜK’s politically motivated censorship. IPI strongly condemns this decision and calls on the council to withdraw its fines.”

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