President Tayyip Erdogan today threatened Turkish media with reprisals if they broadcast content that undermines the country’s core values, which could be the prelude to further censorship in the sector.
In a notice published in the Official Gazette, he said measures were needed to protect Turkey’s “national culture” and prevent the development of its children “from being negatively affected due to exposure to harmful content on all written, verbal and visual media”.
Erdogan did not specify what such content was, but said legal action would be taken against “overt or covert activities through the media aimed at undermining our national and moral values and disrupting our family and our social structure”.
Erdogan has been in power for nearly 20 years and has often criticized media content that is at odds with the conservative Islamic values championed by his AK party.
In recent years, Turkey has also taken steps to strengthen media oversight, with around 90% of mainstream media outlets now owned by the state or close to the government.
His Western allies and critics said Erdogan used a failed coup attempt in 2016 to muzzle dissent and erode social rights and tolerance.
The government has denied this, saying the measures were necessary because of the seriousness of the threats Turkey faces and that freedom of religious expression has been restored in a once heavily secular republic.
Radio and TV watchdog RTUK has extensive oversight of all online content, which it also has the power to remove.
He has fined TV stations for images he says violate Turkish values, such as music videos he called ‘erotic’, LGBTQ references or content he deems to be insulted the president.
Tens of thousands of people have been prosecuted under the latest law, including Sedef Kabas, a well-known journalist jailed last week awaiting trial after posting a proverb about Erdogan’s palace on her Twitter account. and repeated it on an opposition television channel.