Cyprus Mail

Free press in north under scrutiny after TV station axed

Diyalog TV

The decision by Turkey’s radio and television broadcasting authority (RTUK) to cut a Turkish Cypriot station’s satellite broadcasts last week has stirred debate in the north over freedom of the press but also the need to redefine relations with Ankara.

RTUK cut Diyalog TV’s satellite broadcasts last Thursday on the grounds that a guest on a programme made insulting remarks about Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and harmed Turkey’s independence and territorial integrity.

Diyalog, like most television channels in the north, except BRT and Kanal T, carries out its satellite broadcasts over Turksat, Turkey’s satellite service provider.

Diyalog now broadcasts only locally and online.

Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci was among those criticising the move while ‘prime minister’ Ersin Tatar reportedly said he did not believe what happened was undermining democratic values.

According to Turkish Cypriot media on Tuesday Tatar said that this decision was made “in line with Turkey’s sensitivities” and that there was no need for further public discussion.

He also said that the Turkish Cypriot radio and television council would discuss and make decisions on the issue.

Akinci had said last week that the incident had revealed the need for Turkish Cypriot authorities to review their relations with RTUK.

He stressed the importance of not steering away from the fundamental principles of democracy and freedom of expression and of establishing healthier relations with institutions in Turkey and to redefine these relations.

Journalists and media workers in the north criticised the move by RTUK describing it as the latest attack on the Turkish Cypriot press. They also called on the Turkish Cypriot authorities to discuss the issue with their Turkish counterparts as soon as possible.

RTUK sees itself as a court of justice when it comes to many television, radio and online broadcasts and seeks to silence different views and voices, they said in a statement.

Reactions continue with newspapers, columnists and journalists in the north but also some in Turkey criticising the RTUK decision.

The move has baffled many since Diyalog is in fact in line with Turkey’s positions as regards the Cyprus problem.

Columnist Metin Munir, wrote on Tuesday in daily Diyalog that is affiliated with the television station in question, that this was not the first time that Erdogan has tried to force Turkish Cypriot media to abide by his rules. Munir said that Erdogan had asked Akinci to put pressure on the court in the north to issue a decision against the publisher of daily Afrika Sener Levent concerning the caricature case but after the Turkish Cypriot leader refused, he cut off relations with him and turned against the north.

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