Turkey’s RTÜK fines TV channel for criticism of woman who was rude to opposition leader

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Turkey’s broadcasting watchdog, the Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTÜK), has imposed a fine on pro-opposition broadcaster Halk TV over a commentator who criticized a woman for behaving rudely to the leader of the main opposition party during a visit to Çorum province last month, the Stockholm Center for Freedom reported.

According to a tweet by İlhan Taşçı, one of the representatives from the Republican People’s Party (CHP) in RTÜK, Halk TV will be required to pay a fine.

During a visit to Çorum on August 26, CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu had walked toward a woman with a child asking how she was doing. The woman responded rudely, saying: “We are doing well, but don’t you ever touch my child. Come on, go away, go away!”

Kılıçdaroğlu is seen in the video walking away from the woman, smiling.

In his tweet Taşçı asked, “What would happen if that woman had behaved the same way toward another politician?” in apparent reference to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

RTÜK is widely criticized for using broadcasting bans and fines to punish TV stations that are critical of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government.

In a press statement in December 2020, Human Rights Watch said RTÜK was contributing to increasing censorship in the country by imposing punitive and disproportionate sanctions on independent television and radio stations critical of the Turkish government.

The statement said RTÜK contributed to censorship in a country where the vast majority of television news outlets are already pro-government by imposing five-day broadcasting bans on two TV stations and heavy fines on others.

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