The government, which did not bring the disinformation law, which is described as the “censorship law”, to the General Assembly of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey and postponed its meetings, and suppressed the opposition press through the RTÜK, updated the “Ethics of the Press” after 28 years.
The principles were rearranged in the General Assembly of the Press Announcement Agency (BİK) convened on May 25-27. The provision “Information and visuals about terrorist organizations, their members and events cannot be included in a way to legitimize these organizations” was added to the principles opposed by Erinç Sağkan, President of the Union of Turkish Bar Associations (TBB), and seven names among journalists. While the condition “Can’t be misleading” was added to the conditions of “The content of the news cannot be deflected and contradictions can not be created” for news headlines, it was regulated that “the confidentiality of the investigation cannot be violated” with the amendment made in the article regarding the principle of innocence.
Before the change, it was regulated that the content would be removed from publication if there was a “final court decision”. However, in case of a “final judge’s decision”, a change was made to remove the content from publication. In addition, “words that will offend the honor, dignity and prestige of the person, institution or social group shall not be used”. With the amendment, a section titled “Respect for national and social values” was added to the principles. The section included the following items:
- Religion and religious feelings or religiously sacred values cannot be abused or abused.
- Broadcasting against public morals cannot be made.
- Broadcasting cannot be made to disrupt the family structure, which is the foundation of society, and against the protection of the family.
- It is not allowed to broadcast to weaken the common national and moral values of Turkish society.
‘MISSION TO FINISH’
Speaking to Cumhuriyet, the President of the Journalists’ Association Nazmi Bilgin said that it was stated that the censorship law would come to the Parliament when the amendment proposal was submitted to the BİK General Assembly. Stating that in the meetings, it was said that the law should be completed first and then this change should be made, Bilgin said, “The regulation was issued before the law was enacted. This is completely against the law,” he said. Emphasizing that the main duty of the BİK is to distribute advertisements and advertisements to the print media fairly, Bilgin said, “The BİK has no duty to discipline or punish the press. While the principles were issued, the main thing was to protect the reader, not punish the journalists. Now, it has undertaken the task of controlling, educating and punishing the press, almost like an RTÜK. This is also against the law,” he said.
‘CONFLICT TO FREEDOM’
While stating that there are also ambiguous expressions in the principles, Bilgin pointed to phrases such as “general morals” and “national values” and said, “You are taking a stick in your hand that you will punish whenever you want. It is completely against freedom of the press. “They are using a regulation to protect the reader, to punish journalists,” he said. Criticizing the BIK’s ex officio investigations on this issue, Bilgin noted that almost all of the sentences were given to the opposition newspapers according to them. Bilgin said, “The principle of impartiality has disappeared. Totally weird. It has been turned into a stick of power. It’s a morally inconsistent arrangement. “We will do our best to prevent it from being implemented,” he said.
‘KEEP YOUR HAND FROM OUR PEN’
Press Council, Contemporary Journalists Association, Diplomacy Reporters Association, DİSK Basın-İş, Economy Reporters Association, Journalists Association, İzmir Journalists Association, KESK Haber-Sen, Parliamentary Correspondents Association, Turkish Journalists Association and Turkish Journalists Union reacted to the change with a joint statement. . In the statement, which said, “We reject the new Press Code of Ethics, which brought broad censorship to the RCC with an arbitrary attitude,” it was stated that the change was a new manifestation of the “I did it,” mentality.
Noting that the BİK is preparing to become the RTÜK of print and digital media, the statement said, “We are launching legal initiatives against new moral principles that will increase censorship.” The decision of the New Press Ethics Principles was taken by preserving the abstract, ambiguous expressions that were included in the old principles and that caused the criticism of the journalists. The expression ‘general morality’ can undoubtedly be interpreted biasedly for the newspapers or journalists who want to be punished. The moral evaluation of BİK is against the spirit and nature of ethical principles. Since the RCC is a political institution by nature, making such an assessment is an effort to punish with obvious political motives. Journalism is not a crime. The press is not your enemy. Hands off our pen”.