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CNN Turk fined by broadcasting regulator

(BIANET/IFEX) - The Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTUK) has imposed a fine of TL 286,160 (approx. €45,000) on the Turkish news station CNN Turk. The fine was applied after the station's "What's going on" ("Ne Oluyor") programme touched on topics regarding the Kurdish question, such as democratic autonomy, calls for a ceasefire and education in the mother tongue.

The ideas conveyed in a 10 August 2010 broadcast were seen as a breach of the broadcasting standards as defined in Article 4 of Law No. 3984 on the Establishment of Radio and Television Enterprises and their Broadcasts, namely as a violation of the "compliance with the supremacy of the law."

The decision, made by the RTUK on 10 October, was recently communicated to the public. Council member Taha Yucel opposed the ruling. He noted the fact that people with differing ideas expressed their opinions during the programme. "Even if the statements on the subject are disturbing, they should be evaluated within the scope of freedom of expression. Moreover, the guests of the programme controversially discussed the diverse opinions expressed by the participants. Assessing the programme as a whole, there is no reason for punishment," Yucel stated.

The penalty was based on statements made by Osman Ozcelik, a deputy of the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP). During the programme, Ozcelik said, "The participants in a low intensity war are called guerrillas. I do not think that terms like 'terrorist', etcetera, are correct. They are wearing uniforms, they belong to a certain hierarchy and they have a logo. With a logo and the uniform they are a guerrilla alliance. They have to be named correctly, whether you agree with that or not. This is a political movement (referring to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party, PKK). It is a political party, a political party with a military force. The name is the Kurdistan Workers Party and it is a political movement."

RTUK had previously issued a warning to CNN Turk in October on the basis of criticism voiced by the secretary general of the Labour Party, Hasan Basri Ozbey.

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