Press freedom groups call on Turkey to lift advertising ban on leftist dailies

Five press freedom organisations on Friday called for an immediate end to a ban on public advertising on Turkey’s two independent newspapers Evrensel and Birgün.

The International Press Institute (IPI), Reporters without Borders (RSF), the Journalists Union of Turkey (TGS), the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) and the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) published a joint statement calling for Turkey’s Press Ad Agency, the state regulator of government adsvertisements in print media, to lift its ban. 

The press freedom groups said the two newspapers had been subjected to indefinite bans that had been imposed by the Basın İlan Kurumu (BİK) since September. 

“Should the bans remain in place for six months (until March) the newspapers will be formally excluded and unable to reapply for funding for three years,” they said. “Such a result would be catastrophic for the economic viability of the newspapers.”

The press freedom groups met, Rıdvan Duran, the director of BİK, on Thursday to discuss the bans imposed on two dailies. 

Duran said Evrensel and Birgün had breached technical regulations regarding the crediting and sourcing of articles and their means of distribution, adding that both newspapers still had time to correct their practices.

Evrensel is accused of bulk buying that distorts their distribution figures against which measure for the advertising levels are set. “Evrensel is a small leftist newspaper some of whose supporters place group orders of editions before distributing them through their local networks,” the press freedom groups said. 

Birgün newspaper also received an indefinite ban at the beginning of September, first accused of failing to submit distribution figures in time and then of failing to properly credit authors or sources in its articles.

n Turkey, most newspapers are dependent on income raised through advertisements distributed by the agency, which allocates advertising according to circulation numbers.