Turkish press authority issued 90 pct of ad penalties to critical dailies in 2020

Turkey’s Press Advertisement Agency (BİK), a state body that distributes the advertisements of the public sector in the media, has issued 88 percent of its penalties to newspapers critical of the government in 2020, media ombudsman Faruk Bildirici said.

BİK issued a total of 803 days of advertising penalties, breaking its own record, with opposition dailies BirGün, Sözcü, Cumhuriyet, Korkusuz and Evrensel leading the way, Birgün cited Bildirici as saying based on data by the Presidential Communications Centre (CİMER).

“In the 2000s, the penalties throughout the year would not amount to more than 100 days,’’ Bildirici said, highlighting the soaring bans issued by the agency.

Under Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), pro-government outlets have come to represent 90 percent of national-newspaper circulation, with state regulatory bodies increasingly limiting the freedom of speech of publications critical of the government.

“BİK has ceased to be a body that equally distributes advertisements and an institution that inspects illegal practices and moral ethics in newspapers,’’ Bildirici said. "Not only does it channel advertising to pro-government newspapers, it also levels penalties to independent and critical dailies.’’ 

Production costs for Turkey’s print media have risen sharply in recent years after the lira slumped against the dollar. To survive financially, newspaper owners increasingly rely on revenue from public advertisements that the BİK distributes proportional to circulation.

The BİK has issued more bans against media companies in recent years on minor technicalities, with international press freedom organisations including International Press Institute (IPI) and Reporters without Borders (RSF) calling for an end to the agency’s arbitrary bans.