Turkish presidency takes control of national Anadolu Agency
Management of Turkey’s state-run Anadolu Agency has been transferred to the Presidency’s Directorate of Communications, the Turkish government’s official gazette announced on Friday.
The decree signed by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan means power to audit the national news agency, appoint administrators and manage its activities, budget, and human resources will now lie with the presidency’s communications directorate.
The latest move is likely to make Fahrettin Altun, the Presidency Communications Director, one of the most influential figures at the agency.
An academic known for his work at government friendly think tank SETA and regular columns for pro-government newspapers, Altun was named as the communications director last July.
Altun has spoken of his desire to encourage a “native and national” culture in Turkey in line with the Justice and Development Party (AKP)’s vision of Turkish nationalism and free from the influence of “Westernist ideologies”.
The Presidency Directorate of Communications also oversees Turkey’s national broadcaster, TRT, and the media regulatory body, the Radio and Television Supreme Council.
Anadolu Agency is the main source for results on election nights in Turkey, a status that led to controversy on the night of the March 31 local elections when the agency abruptly stopped updating results as the opposition candidate was poised to take the lead in Istanbul.
The next morning the Supreme Election Council chairman told reporters Anadolu Agency had not received data on the count from the council, raising suspicions that it received its data directly from AKP officials at polling stations.
The Journalists' Union of Turkey (TGS) has reported that 74 journalists were sentenced to a total of 256 years in prison in 12 months alone, news website Artı Gerçek reported. Three of the journalists received life sentences, the union said.
Four out of five journalists who faced trial in the country received prison sentences and journalists were fined a total of 170 million Turkish liras ($28,5 million) over their work, the union said in a statement on Friday, which marked World Press Freedom Day.
"In recent years, the increasing pressure on journalists, the government’s taking control over the media and the imprisonment of 142 journalists have ended press freedom in the country," the TGS said. The group also said the Turkish authorities had cancelled 1954 press cards in the last three years.
"Turkey is again the world's biggest prison for professional journalists"
In the index published today (April 25), the freedom of press in Turkey was evaluated as follows:
"The witch hunt waged by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's government against its media critics has come to a head since an abortive coup in July 2016. A state of emergency has allowed the authorities to eliminate dozens of media outlets with the stroke of a pen, reducing pluralism to a handful of low-circulated and targeted publications. Turkey is again the world's biggest prison for professional journalists, with members of the press spending more than a year in prison before trial and long jail sentences becoming the new norm—in some cases, journalists are sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of a pardon.
Turkish watchdog lists 16,000 sanctions against media
Turkey's top television watchdog imposed more than 16,000 sanctions on the media and as much as 250 million liras (nearly $45 million) in fines for violating broadcasting regulations over an eight-year, Turkish secularist newspaper Cumhuriyet reported on Sunday.
The Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTÜK), the country's broadcasting authority, revealed details of the sanctions in response to a parliamentary question by main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) Istanbul deputy Gamze Akkuş Ilgezdi.
Speaking at the parliament on Saturday, Minister of Culture and Tourism Mehmet Nuri Ersoy announced the bans and penalties, saying the watchdog imposed restrictions on 1,322 media service providers between 2010 and 2018.
RTÜK has been criticised by some Turkish politicians, observers and local human rights groups for its strong-armed, Islamic-leaning approach to supervision of the media. Its decisions include shutting down a Kurdish television channel temporarily, fining TV shows for filming actors kissing each other and for including gay characters on screen.
Last year, RTÜK fined a private television channel 1 million liras for showing children aged between seven and 11 years dancing in shorts during the “You’ve Got Talent” television show. It claimed that people were getting aroused by the children.
Some articles from 2018-2019: