Public broadcaster Turkish Radio and Television Corporation (TRT) dedicated 78 times more airtime to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and politicians from his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) than to main opposition leader Özgür Özel, between January 1 and February 10, local media reported on Monday.
According to Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTÜK) members İlhan Taşçı and Tuncay Keser from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), the TRT Haber TV channel covered Erdoğan and other AKP members and mayoral candidates for 1,945 minutes, while it covered CHP leader Özel for 25 minutes in total in the span of 40 days.
TRT’de 40 günde AKP Genel Başkanı Tayyip Erdoğan 1945 dakika yer bulurken, CHP Genel Başkanı Özgür Özel’in canlı yayın süresi sadece 25 dakikada kaldı!
Halkın vergisiyle yayın yapan TRT’nin utanç tablosu şöyle👇 pic.twitter.com/vnlgsL6jnL
— İlhan Taşcı (@ilhantasci) February 12, 2024
The data come as Turkey’s political parties campaign for the local elections scheduled for March 31.
Taşçı and Keser further revealed that on February 6, the first anniversary of two powerful earthquakes that struck southern Turkey in 2023, Erdoğan and his ally Devlet Bahçeli, leader of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), appeared on TRT Haber for seven hours, 20 minutes, while politicians from the CHP, the second-largest party in parliament, and its leader Özel, were not seen at all during the 24-hour broadcast.
Keser stated that with the start of election campaigns in early January, TRT had entered a period of government propaganda.
“As a public broadcaster funded by the taxes of 85 million people, TRT … has become a tool for government propaganda. … The TRT administration is committing a crime again, just as it has done before. The YSK [Supreme Election Board] and RTÜK have remained silent. No steps have been taken [to prevent this],” Keser said.
He emphasized that these data would go down in press history as a “disgraceful episode” for the TRT administration.
Taşcı also said the data can’t be explained by journalism or broadcasting, referring to it as “political animosity.”
“With the restoration of justice, those responsible for these broadcasts will be held to account in a court of law,” he added.
TRT was subordinated to the president’s office with a decree issued in 2018.
During election campaigns in past years, TRT has been harshly criticized for discriminating against opposition parties while giving extensive coverage to the campaigns of Erdoğan and his AKP government.
Most election rallies for Erdoğan and the AKP are broadcast live by the station.