Turkey’s Supreme Audiovisual Council has sanctioned three Turkish television channels for criticizing the government’s handling of the earthquake that hit the country’s south on February 6.
It concerns the channels Halk TV, Tele 1 and Fox TV. They have to pay a fine and cancel programs. Halk TV and Tele 1 are fined 5 percent of their January turnover, while Fox TV is fined 3 percent of their monthly turnover. Halk TV is not allowed to broadcast for five days.
The three television stations are known for their critical approach to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Halk TV is even accused of maintaining good ties with the main opposition party CHP.
The Turkish journalists’ association accuses the Supreme Audiovisual Council of censoring. It is committing a crime by denying people the right to information. Turkey scores poorly regarding press freedom, with prison sentences approved for spreading “false news” at the end of last year.
After the magnitude 7.8 earthquake that hit southern Turkey and northern Syria early this month, the Turkish government has already received much criticism for handling the crisis. The response was slow, especially in the first few days, when many people were still buried alive under collapsed buildings. According to the opposition party CHP, this slow approach cost tens of thousands of lives.