ISTANBUL (CIHAN)- If anyone these days cares to measure the state of journalism and its role in informing the Turkish public at the critical juncture of the election, a look into the row involving the
Along with the semi-official Anatolia news agency,
The recent shouting match and the vote at the state regulatory body, the Supreme Board of Radio and Television (RTÜK), reveals how the government maximized its control over the vast TRT network, as part of its campaign for a power grab.
It was Selahattin Demirtas, presidential candidate of the pro-
According to Demirtas, the main channel of the public broadcaster, TRT 1, has so far devoted 24 minutes to Erdogan, two minutes to Ihsanoglu and none to him. He said the news channel TRT Haber broadcast 204 minutes of the prime minister, 80 seconds of Ihsanoglu and 45 seconds of him.
Article 5 of the TRT Law states the corporation is obliged to "produce sufficient broadcasts on subjects of interest to the public in order to enable the healthy and free development of public opinion; produce broadcasts that are impartial; and should not be used as an instrument for the interests of a political party, group, interest group, belief or idea."
When the issue was brought to the RTÜK, the discussion between the Justice and
Fierce partisanship blocking journalism is nothing new. The TRT's test case had been under exposure already during the
The regulator's report, dated
This time, it was Ali ÖztunÇ, a CHP-affiliated member of the RTÜK, who came with a harsh claim that the government had been forcing inspectors to prepare tendentious reports that hold the TRT exempt from any sanctions for its biased programming.
He added that not only the TRT, but also RTÜK has fallen under the control of Erdogan.
I have long argued in this column that if anyone wants to check the state of democracy -- or its emergence -- in any country, the prime criterion is to look at its public broadcaster.
Is its autonomy or independence guaranteed, protected from political interference? Is it run by professional journalists? Is it bold enough in its reporting of corruption, when the privately owned media is politically polluted or corrupt itself? Is it inclusive of dissent and diversity?
The TRT's sad story constitutes the focal point of journalism's collapse in
"The fact that public broadcasting has not been able to take root in
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