Turkish media watchdog warns TV stations against airing AKP rally footage amid pandemic

Turkey’s Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTÜK) has urged TV stations against airing footage of the ruling party’s congresses, which came under criticism for violating pandemic measures, RTÜK member İlhan Taşçı said.

The request, made by RTÜK chairman Ebubekir Şahin, called for TV stations to not air the crowded congress gatherings and to use footage of empty streets instead, Cumhuriyet newspaper cited Taşçı, RTÜK board member affiliated with the main opposition party, as saying.

Turkey’s governing Justice and Development Party (AKP) party has come under fire for holding packed political rallies in the country’s northern region, which has some of the highest rates of COVID-19 infections.

The events held in March in the Black Sea provinces of Rize, Trabzon, Giresun and Ordu, some attended by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, were accused of violating pandemic restrictions amid rising cases and deaths linked to the deadly virus.

About one week after the gatherings, the country’s cases had risen to 40,806, a four-fold increase since the start of the month.

Erdoğan boasted about the strong turnout for the rallies, a move met with backlash over what critics maintain is a blatant double standard in implementing restrictive measures.