The Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTÜK) has levied a nearly TL 1 million penalty on the Samanyolu Broadcasting Group in what Samanyolu executives consider yet another attempt to silence media outlets close to Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen.
“As if there were no other channels, RTÜK is exclusively following our channels and attempting to silence them with astronomic penalties,” said Samanyolu Haber TV Editor-in-Chief Metin Yıkar, commenting on the fine. “RTÜK should be the institution that monitors and regulates this country's television networks, but it has completely abandoned this role and assumed the position of a political actor,” added Yıkar.
The Samanyolu group has been subjected to a series of penalties and punishments since severe corruption allegations targeting Cabinet ministers and other key figures close to the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) emerged on Dec. 17, 2013. Since then, the Samanyolu TV and Samanyolu Haber TV networks have been levied a total of 145 administrative fines totaling TL 4 million. RTÜK has also punished the network by temporarily suspending a number of its programs.
Samanyolu Broadcasting Group Chairman Hidayet Karaca has been in jail since Dec. 14 as the result of a crackdown against Gülen-affiliated media outlets that also saw the editor-in-chief of the Zaman daily, Ekrem Dumanlı, taken into custody. Dumanlı was subsequently released.
The AK Party has routinely imposed heavy financial punishments on critical media outlets. The Doğan Media Group, the largest in Turkey, was handed a whopping TL 4.8 billion tax fine in 2009, although the amount was later reduced following negotiations. Last year, the critical Taraf daily announced that it had been fined TL 5.5 million by the Tax Inspection Council Administration of the Ministry of Finance over its scrap paper sales to paper mills. The daily had written that other newspapers also engage in the sale of scrap paper, but Taraf was the only one fined for the activity.
Published on Sunday's Zaman, 15 February 2015, Sunday