Turkey Fines Broadcasters for Earthquake Criticism

    Turkey Fines Broadcasters for Earthquake Criticism
    Last updated Feb 23, 2023
    Image credit: Agence France-Presse [via the Guardian]


    • Three Turkish TV stations — Halk TV, Tele 1, and FOX — were fined on Wednesday for reporting on alleged shortcomings in the government’s response to the earthquake that killed more than 42K earlier this month.
    • All three channels fined by the Television Supreme Council — the government telecommunications regulator — are known for being critical of the Erdoğan administration; Halk TV is linked to the CHP party, which is Turkey’s main opposition.
    • Two of the channels, Halk TV and Tele 1, were fined 5% of their January revenues. Authorities also ordered them to suspend one of their daily programs for five days; Halk TV and FOX TV were ordered to pay 3% against their January revenue for separate infractions.
    • Both local and international media organizations, as well as journalists' unions, have expressed outrage over the fines, with the Committee to Protect Journalists calling on Turkish authorities to revoke the penalties and safeguard media freedom in the country.
    • In the latest Reporters Without Borders press freedom index, released in 2022, Turkey ranked 149th out of 180 countries.


    Narrative A

    These sanctions against the media outlets follow a direct warning to journalists and broadcasters by the regulating agency that they had a legal obligation not to share information that harms the search and rescue efforts in the earthquake zone and causes panic and disinformation. Turkey’s Radio and Television Supreme Council simply cannot look the other way when organizations make manipulative broadcasts with malicious intent — this is in line with the clear language of the earthquake disaster declaration.

    Narrative B

    The three TV stations were fined for criticizing President Erdoğan and his ruling Justice and Development Party for poor performance in coordinating search and rescue efforts following the earthquake. The authorities allegedly failed to mobilize enough people, and the coordination among the teams functioned poorly. This inefficient performance contributed to earthquake victims tragically freezing to death underneath the rubble. Punishing media for reporting and informing the public — especially in times of a major catastrophe — is a crime and should not happen in a democracy.

    Nerd narrative

    There is a 59% chance that Erdoğan will abdicate the presidency if he loses the 2023 presidential election, according to the Metaculus prediction community.

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