Turkish Television Watchdog Practicing Thought Control?
Bianet, a left-leaning website that closely tracks worrying trends in Turkey, has an article out today about a television talk show that has been fined by the Turkish state's television watchdog for what appears to be exceeding the limits of discussion of the Armenian genocide issue. From the report:
The Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTÜK) decided to impose a broadcasting ban on the Turkish
television station Haber Türk on the grounds of writer Sevan Nişanyan's thoughts on the "Armenian genocide".
Nişanyan was guest at the program "One to one" hosted by Fatih
Altaylı and had referred to the killing of a huge number of Armenians by the
Ottoman Empire in 1915.
RTÜK took the decision on 15 June and notified Haber Türk on
21 June. The Council indicated that Nişanyan, one of several guests in the program,
"exceeded the limits of criticism" with his statements that allegedly
"humiliated the Republic of Turkey".
RTÜK suspended the broadcast of one program of "One to
one". The "One to one" program on issue was broadcasted on 9
March 2010 at 8.00 pm during the process when the Armenian Bill was accepted by
the US House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee.
The Council based the punishment on article 4(i) of Law no.
3984 on the Establishment of Radio and Television Enterprises and their
Broadcasts as amended by Law no. 4756 on "Broadcasting Standards".
Accordingly, "broadcasts shall not offend the
personality of individuals beyond the limits of criticism, shall respect the
right of reply and rectification". Haber Türk can apply to the
Administrative Court to annul the decision.
The decision signed by 1st Law Counsellor lawyer Arslan
Narin, demanded to suspend the program on
13 July at 8.00 pm and replace it by a program prepared by RTÜK without
commercials. The notification of punishment was to be read out prior to the
program and written information that the program was suspended and which
broadcasting standards had been violated was to be shown in 10 minute
Author Nişanyan said in the program, "Terrible events
happened in 1915. A whole society who had been living here for thousands of
years was expelled from their home country and was subjected to tyranny and
injustice. [...]The state policies in Turkey say that this is a lie and that
they do not care about our feelings and they do their best to oppress and
silence these feelings. I think these policies have softened a little
throughout the past two to three years. At least, they stepped back from
completely ignoring it. But when we look at recent speeches of the government,
we see very clearly that the basic mentality has not changed [...]".
It would appear that RTUK is also interested in setting limits in non-political matters. According to Bianet, the agency also recently fined a television drama known as "The Lady's Farm," which tells the story of a farm family set against the backdrop of Turkey's politically turbulent 1950's, for exceeding the limits of public decency with an episode that had the show's heroine cursing her father and brother. RTUK charged the show with "opposing national and moral values of society and the structure of the Turkish family." It's not clear from the ruling if it's the cursing itself that opposes the structure of the Turkish family or the fact that it was the woman of the house, rather then the men, who was doing the cursing.The agency also made waves a few months ago when it took Turkey's new regulations on restricting the display of smoking on television to an extreme end when it fined a private channel for airing on episode of the animated "Tintin" series that showed a group of Chicago gangsters chewing on cigars.