ISTANBUL: The Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTUK), Turkey’s top media watchdog, has issued FOX Turkey with a broadcast ban and fine as a result of anchorman Fatih Portakal’s critical reporting of the Turkish government’s efforts to combat the COVID-19 outbreak.
Portakal’s prime-time news show, which airs at 7 p.m. on weeknights, will not be broadcast for three days, and FOX Turkey has been fined 3 percent of the show’s daily advertising revenue. The RTUK has also threatened to ban the show entirely if Portakal continues to be critical of the government’s response to COVID-19.
The International Press Institute (IPI) — a global network of journalists, editors and media executives — issued a statement condemning the RTUK’s decision.
Portakal, a popular host, is a staunch critic of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government. He was a roommate of Istanbul’s secular metropolitan mayor Ekrem Imamoglu in college.
In early April, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused Portakal of “spreading lies and manipulating the public on social media” after he implied in a Tweet that the state might ask citizens to contribute savings to the government-initiated nationwide anti-coronavirus campaign. Portakal also faces charges of “insulting the president.” He will stand trial in the near future.
Erdogan had referred in a speech to past National Tax orders in Turkey, implying that previous governments had issued similar requests when faced with extraordinary conditions.
Portakal tweeted: “I am wondering if they will also ask for money from those who have deposits or savings by reminding them of the National Tax orders and saying ‘We are going through difficult days.’ Unfortunately, I cannot say that this won’t happen.”