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Turkey’s RTÜK sanctions TV station over criticism of ruling party voters

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The Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTÜK), Turkey’s broadcasting regulator, has imposed a temporary broadcast ban as well as a fine on the Flash Haber TV station over the remarks of a journalist who criticized the voter base of the ruling party, the Stockholm Center For Freedom reported.

Accused of fomenting hatred and enmity among the public, the station has to suspend the program for five episodes and pay 5 percent of last month’s ad revenue as an administrative fine.

“They are catering to an uneducated mass. There’s a certain segment of the population in Turkey that is at the peak of ignorance,” journalist Fahrettin Fidan said during the program, referring to the voters of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and its governing partner, the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP). “They vote and seal Turkey’s fate.”

It’s common for RTÜK, whose members are appointed in proportion to the political parties’ representation in parliament, to sanction pro-opposition networks over criticism of the government and its policies.

In the event of repetition, some sanctions entail the revocation of the broadcasting license.

Journalists in the country also frequently face criminal pursuit. Last week saw the detention of three journalists in two days, and an NGO report found that a total of 63 journalists were in prison as of November 3.

Turkey is ranked 165th out of 180 countries in Reporters Without Borders’ latest press freedom index.

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