Turkey’s broadcasting watchdog, the Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTÜK), has imposed a three-day broadcasting ban on the Tele1 TV station after an opposition deputy referred to Turkey’s Directorate of Religious Affairs (Diyanet) as an “Islamist tool” and called for its closure on a Tele1 program, the Kronos news website reported.
“The Diyanet is an Islamist tool and should be closed down,” Workers’ Party of Turkey (TİP) lawmaker Sera Kadıgil said in a broadcast that aired on Sept. 20 on Tele1.
RTÜK considered the remark a violation of Turkish broadcasting law.
RTÜK member İlhan Taşçı from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) announced RTÜK’s decision on his social media account on Wednesday.
Taşçı said RTÜK decided by a majority vote to ban Tele1 from broadcasting for three days and that the penalty for the next violation would be “closure of the station.”
Tele1, a broadcaster that often features views critical of the Turkish government, is threatened with revocation of its broadcasting license if the station receives a similar penalty before February 2023.
He said the Turkish government is trying to silence the media before the 2023 elections.
Turkey has a poor record on freedom of the press and was ranked 153rd out of 180 countries in the 2021 World Press Freedom Index.
RTÜK is a controversial authority accused of contributing to increasing censorship in the country by imposing punitive and disproportionate sanctions on independent television and radio stations critical of the Turkish government.