July 23, 2008

Turkey: Watchdog Calls for Lifting Ban on Workers’ Television Network

Text of press release in English by Brussels-based International Federation of Journalists on 23 July

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today criticised the Turkish authorities over censorship of Hayat TV, a Turkish satellite television network supporting workers' rights.

The network was suspended from broadcasting last week on the orders of the High Council for Turkish Broadcasting (RTUK) for allegedly providing film of the Kurdish New Year celebrations to Roj TV, a station based in Germany that the Turkish authorities regard as an outlet of the banned Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). In fact, the station never provided the footage, which came from a Kurdish news agency.

"This action was taken without warning and shows an extraordinary intolerance on the part of the Turkish authorities," said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary. "News organisations like Hayat are under constant pressure from a regime that acts without having the decency to check its information. This suspension must be lifted immediately."

The head of Hayat TV Aydin Cubuku said he would do everything necessary to be able to resume broadcasting and would seek compensation from the RTUK and the state-owned TV satellite operator Trksat. He says the action is an indication of the impatience of the Justice and Development Party and he told the Internet site Bianet: "However, they cannot shut us up, we will not shut up."

He said that at the behest of the RTUK, the Trksat chief executive wrote to Turkovizyon, a company that contracts Turksat services for a number of Turkish TV stations, demanding that they terminate Hayat TV broadcasts.

Hayat TV, which has been broadcasting since December last year 2007, has content targeted at Turkish workers.

"This is an action which reveals again just how fragile free expression is in modern Turkey," said White. "This young and vigorous channel may not be to the taste of people in power, but it speaks for the voiceless and should be put back on air as soon as possible."

Originally published by International Federation of Journalists press release, Brussels, in English 23 Jul 08.

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