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Penalties against TV stations for reports after earthquakes

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Earthquake in Turkey.
Image: APA/AFP/Ozan Kose
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Halk TV, Tele 1 and Fox will have to pay fines and temporarily suspend broadcasts because of their reports and comments on deficiencies in the government’s response to the earthquake, Ilhan Tasci, the opposition agency’s delegate, tweeted on Wednesday.

The three channels are known for their critical coverage of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Halk TV is also close to the main opposition party, the CHP. According to Tasci, the amount of the fines was based on the broadcaster’s turnover in January. Halk TV and Tele 1 must also suspend one of their daily programs for five days.

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After a failed coup in 2016, Erdogan brought much of Turkey’s media under the control of the government and its business partners. Erdogan is aiming for re-election this year. How his government dealt with the devastating earthquake in Turkey that killed more than 42,000 people has become an important campaign issue.

The head of the Turkish Union of Journalists, Nazmi Bilgin, criticized the decision as a “crime” for disregarding the right of the population to information. The supervisory authority works like a “censorship authority”. Tele 1 editor-in-chief Merdan Yanardag called the penalties a “complete disgrace”.

After the earthquake, many families in need criticized the government for insufficient aid and rescue measures. Last week, Erdogan acknowledged “deficits” in crisis management, but at the same time referred to the magnitude of the earthquake.

In October, a law came into force in Turkey that makes spreading “fake news” punishable by up to three years in prison. Reporters Without Borders ranked Turkey 149th out of 180 for press freedom in 2022.

Source: Nachrichten

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