Turkish media watchdog issues fine over interview with transgender woman

Turkey’s media watchdog has issued a fine against an internet series for airing a broadcast that featured a trans actress, Duvar English news site reported on Sunday. 

Turkish regulator Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTÜK) asked the streaming service Exxen to remove the episode of the show Katarsis, which featured an interview with actress Çağla Akalın. The actress said in an interview that she was alerted by her fans that the episode was unavailable when she learned about its removal from Katarsis’ host Görkem Çınar 

"Çınar told me that he just found out about the episode being removed and that he was saddened about it," Akalın recounted to Oda TV news site.

“In the statement made, it was said that the platform was fined by RTÜK for the Catharsis broadcast, where I was a guest, and requested the removal of the broadcast,” she added.

Akalın rejected any notion that the episode was indecent or in any way involved anything that can be considered offensive to viewers. In a separate interview with Arti Gerçek news site, Akalın explained that she only talked about her life and that alone was why the program was punished.  

RTÜK has been accused of becoming increasingly conservative under the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and acting arbitrarily when issuing fines against programmes that are considered critical of the government. It has also been accused of singling out programs for content that it deems offensive to “family values”. 

Touching on the political element to the decision, Akalın denied that anything she said should be seen as setting a negative example for viewers. Her interview on Katarsis was the first featuring a transgender woman on a Turkish programme, and that contributed to the show being punished. 

“I wish I had been punished for those who have suffered these pains instead of punishing the program where I have been telling about the events I have been through since childhood,” Akalin told Artı Gerçek.

"I am already repeating to anyone who connects the issue to a political view and stance and tries to hit me with a political view and stance: I am a citizen of the country."