P24 publishes a report on Turkey’s media watchdog - for lawmakers

P24 publishes a report on Turkey’s media watchdog - for lawmakers

Photo provided by P24.

Turkey’s Platform for Independent Journalism (P24) published a report on the massive problems regarding the role and position of Turkish Supreme Board of Radio and Television (RTÜK).

P24 sent the report on RTÜK to lawmakers, first via email and then through regular mail. The report was based on a lengthy panel discussion seeking to dissect the role of RTÜK in regulating radio and TV media in Turkey, which took place in Istanbul on 17 February this year.

The discussion was organized in the form of a roundtable meeting as part of the South-East Europe Media Observatory (MO) project, which aims to promote media integrity in the region.

The seven-page report outlines the major problems that undermine the media watchdog’s transparency and effectiveness and offers solutions put forth by the experts, most of them former RTÜK board members, during the Feb. 17 panel.

The report summarizes the views of Bülent Çaplı, a prominent media expert from Bilkent University; Davut Dursun, a former RTÜK President; Korkmaz Alemdar, a veteran academic and also a former RTÜK board member; Ali Öztunç, a former RTÜK member from the Republican People's Party (CHP); Aslı Tunç, a professor of media from Bilgi University and of Hülya Alp, a scriptwriter who was a member of the board of RTÜK between 2007 and 2013.

While most of the experts had attended the panel in person, two of them shared their views with the participants in writing.

The report, which outlines the legislative framework that defines RTÜK’s role and functions, recalled that the first law on RTÜK in Turkey was adopted in 1994. It noted that Turkey became a signatory to the European Convention on Cross-Border Television when Parliament ratified the treaty in 1993.

According to the report, the fundamental problems with RTÜK include its lack of transparency; its exploitation by incumbent governments as a punishment tool to silence critics; its failure to share most of its decisions with the general public; its apparent lack of autonomy; its lack of emphasis on public broadcasting and its perceived function as an institution of censorship.

The report, in line with the recommendations of the experts who were present at the panel, proposed making the body more transparent through publishing of its resolutions online.

Other suggestions included changing the administrative structure of RTÜK to make it autonomous in the true sense of the word.

The report also said the current broadcast laws should be revised to assign more functions to RTÜK in a way that would allow the body to transform into a public service agency that will effectively improve broadcasting services in public and privately owned television and radio stations.

The report finally noted that an Advisory Council to the RTÜK Board should be established to ensure that the board members have access to specialized information on technical topics such as digital broadcasts, child development and educational issues.

The report is available in Turkish langage, here.

For more on the independence and transparency of the media regulator and public service media in Turkey, see the report published by SEE Media Observatory in 2015, available here.

Media Integrity
Media Policy and Reforms