Turkish authorities impose advertising ban on critical daily Cumhuriyet

The Press Advertisement Agency (BİK), a state body that distributes the advertisements of the public sector in the media, has issued a 19-day advertising ban against Cumhuriyet daily.

According to the paper’s own statement, the reason for the ban was a column published in print and a news story on the paper’s website.  

The column that lead to a 17-day ban was titled “Why did we eat this s***,” referencing a famous short story by beloved Turkish author Aziz Nesin, which the BİK deemed in violation of press ethics guidelines for being written in full without censor.

The BİK also maintained that the phrase “a so-called war –sorry, operation” contained in the column posed proof that the column objected to and belittled Turkey’s Operation Peace Spring, a military incursion launched in October against Kurdish-held areas in northern Syria.

The remaining two days of the ban pertained to a news story on Turkey’s media watchdog  Turkish Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTÜK), for “crossing the boundaries of informing the public and freedom of expression,” and violating the press ethics guidelines for willfully distorting or contracting the truth.

Most newspapers in Turkey depend on revenue from advertising that BİK allocates, especially those outside of major media conglomerates. 

Turkey’s left-leaning daily Birgün recently accused the BİK of unjustly imposing an embargo on the newspaper, with editorial board member İbrahim Varlı calling the ban “an attempt to get (Birgün) to toe the line.”

Another major left-leaning daily Evrensel’s chief editor Fatih Polat said the paper shared Birgün’s fate.

“The BİK wants to push opposition newspapers outside the arena,” Polat told union news portal Sendika.org.