Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Turkey: TV stations fined in connection with protest coverage


Committee to Protect Journalists

The Committee to Protect Journalists calls on the Turkish state media regulator to reverse its decision to penalize four TV stations in connection with their coverage of the demonstrations that have occurred nationwide over the past two weeks.

The state broadcast regulator, the High Council of Radio and Television (RTÜK), levied fines on Wednesday against the pro-opposition TV stations Ulusal Kanal, Halk TV, Cem TV, and EM TV, in the amount of 12,000 Turkish lira (US$6,460) each, for allegedly "inciting violence" and "violating broadcasting principles," according to local news reports. RTÜK said the stations' live coverage of clashes between riot police and protesters in Taksim Square "could harm the physical, moral, and mental development of children and young people," the reports said.

While mainstream television channels such as Habertürk, CNN Türk, and NTV were airing unrelated programming despite the dramatic events unfolding in Istanbul's streets--incurring the frustration of protesters--Ulusal Kanal, Halk TV, Cem TV, and EM TV were streaming live coverage.

It is unclear if the stations will pay the fine or are planning to appeal.

"We call on the High Council of Radio and Television to reverse its decision to punish Ulusal Kanal, Halk TV, Cem TV, and EM TV for doing their job by reporting on anti-government demonstrations," CPJ Europe and Central Asia Program Coordinator Nina Ognianova said from New York. "Keeping the public informed of events as they happen is not harmful to society; keeping those events concealed is."