Turkish TV channel punished after presenter failed to object to government criticism

Turkey’s Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTÜK), a regulatory body in charge of censoring and sanctioning broadcasts, fined a TV station over a presenter’s failure to  “strongly object’’ to an opposition deputy’s criticism of the government, the minister of culture and tourism said.

The RTÜK record-breaking punishment handed down to Habertürk stemmed from the lack of reaction from the anchor, when Republican People’s Party (CHP) lawmaker Ali Mahir Başarır blasted the government over a defence deal with Qatar, Duvar news site cited Mehmet Nuri Ersoy as saying on Monday.

RTÜK in December imposed an administrative fine and a five-time broadcast ban on Habertürk TV, saying Başarır's remarks were “contrary to the integrity of the state and nation.”

Başarır in a programme on Nov. 28 had accused the government of selling the Turkish army to Qatar after the operating rights of the country's national tank factory was turned over to Turkish-Qatari vehicle manufacturer BMC for 25 years.

RTÜK, controlled by allies of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, has come under criticism for handing down a disproportionate number of fines to the country’s few remaining opposition outlets in recent years.