TRT's government propaganda through “documentaries” exposed
Turkey's public broadcaster TRT has once again faced criticism regarding the unequal treatment of opposition and government content, as the country heads to the second round of the presidential elections on Sunday, Turkey’s Duvar reported.
This time, TRT found itself at the center of a storm due to allegations of airing "documentary-like propaganda." Tuncay Keser, an opposition member of The Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTUK) has determined that a significant portion of TRT's airtime is being allocated to government propaganda through these documentaries.
Keser stated that the documentaries, such as "100 Years on the Path of Development," "National Power Strong Turkey," "100 Years on the Path of Democracy," and "Turkey with Our Cities," were aired on TRT screens 15 to 20 times a day, with each lasting approximately 9 to 12 minutes. These documentaries covered topics such as "Nuclear Energy," "Education," "National Defense," "Transportation," "Health," "February 28th," "Presidential Government System," "Coalition Impasse," and "Hagia Sophia Grand Mosque."
According to the analysis conducted on May 21, the documentary titled "100 Years on the Path of Development" was aired 8 times, "100 Years on the Path of Democracy" was aired 4 times, and "Turkey with Our Cities" was aired 6 times on TRT News. The total airtime for these documentaries amounted to 2 hours and 8 minutes. On the same day, the live broadcasts of the leaders and spokespersons of the parties within the ruling People's Alliance on TRT News lasted for 3 hours and 40 minutes, resulting in a total of 5 hours and 48 minutes of government propaganda. When the news programs are taken into account, this duration increases even further.
Between May 18 and 23, TRT News aired the documentary "100 Years on the Path of Development" a total of 77 times, "National Power Strong Turkey" 17 times, "100 Years on the Path of Democracy" 33 times, and "Turkey with Our Cities" 30 times. The cumulative number of screenings for these documentaries reached 157.
Tuncay Keser reminded that the Supreme Election Council (YSK) has established principles for election period broadcasts and made decisions stating that media outlets cannot engage in one-sided and biased broadcasts. He remarked, "Until today, there has been no supervision regarding compliance with these principles. Neither the YSK nor the RTUK has taken any steps." As TRT is funded by the taxes of 85 million citizens, Keser emphasized the need for the broadcaster to uphold equal opportunities and impartiality. He stated, "Even on the day of the elections, TRT aired a political party advertisement featuring the 'Turkey Century' logo. These documentaries, which clearly appear to be produced for propaganda purposes, started appearing on TRT screens during the initial stages of the election and are now being broadcast almost throughout the day on TRT News."
Keser continued his criticism with the following words:
"In fact, all of these are like commercial films... It seems like a formula has been found for free propaganda. On one hand, YSK decisions are being violated, and on the other hand, it is causing damage to the public. This constitutes a blatant crime. The TRT management is abusing its power and committing a crime. By continuously violating the bans, the TRT management undermines the principles of the rule of law, election justice, and democracy."