Turkey’s leading opposition newspaper dealt advertising ban

Turkish opposition newspaper Cumhuriyet will not be able to run public advertisements for 28 days after a court ruling.

The court in Istanbul has upheld a ban imposed by Turkey’s print media advertising authority, rejecting a legal appeal by the newspaper, Cumhuriyet reported on Monday.

The Press Advertisement Agency (BİK) had barred Cumhuriyet from running ads distributed by public institutions after Presidential Communications Director Fahrettin Altun complained about 15 news articles the newspaper had published.

The Turkish authorities are seeking to put a muzzle on the press while the government has promised democratic reform, said Turkey Journalists’ Syndicate (TGS) Chairman Gökhan Durmuş.

“The government has been trying to silence opposition newspapers including Cumhuriyet,” Durmuş said.

There are more than 10,000 unemployed journalists in Turkey and over 12,000 journalists have been sued for the articles they wrote, Turkish Journalists’ Association (TGC) Secretary General Sibel Güneş told Cumhuriyet. There are 72 journalists in prison in Turkey, Güneş said.

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, while international press freedom organisations including International Press Institute (IPI) and Reporters without Borders (RSF) have called for an end to the agency’s arbitrary bans.