Turkey: Three broadcasters fined for criticizing government response to earthquake
by Karen Faulkner, Worthy News Correspondent
(Worthy News) – In a move described as a “crime” and a “disgrace,” Turkey’s media regulator fined three broadcasters for reports containing criticism of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s response to the February 6 earthquake, which killed 42,000 people, the Guardian UK reports. The Reporters Without Borders NGO ranked Turkey ranked 149 out of 180 for freedom of the press in 2022.
Erdoğan brought most of Turkey’s media under the control of his government after an unsuccessful coup attempt in 2016, the Guardian said. In October last year, Turkey passed a law that prohibits the dissemination of “fake news” and carries a sentence of up to three years in prison for violators.
Following their coverage of the government’s response to the earthquake, Halk TV, Tele 1 and FOX were each handed fines based on their previous month’s income.
Each of the three news outlets are known for editorials that are critical of the Erdoğan government. Halk TV and Tele 1 were fined 5% of their January income; Halk TV and FOX TV were also fined 3% of their January turnover for separate infractions, the Guardian reports.
In a statement, Ilhan Tasci, a member of the regulator’s board who was nominated by opposition parties, said: “All these penalties were based on comments and news after the earthquake. We live in a time when reporting is considered a crime.”
The head of Turkey’s Journalists’ Association, Nazmi Bilgin said in a separate statement: “With these penalties, the criminal members of [the regulator], who disregard the right of the public to receive news and the right of the earthquake victims to be informed, commit a great crime.” The editor-in-chief of Tele 1, Merdan Yanardag described the fines as a “complete disgrace,” the Guardian said.
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