September 28th, 2010 - 14:56 UTC
by Andy Sennitt.
A proposal made over the weekend by a Turkish journalist, suggesting the establishment of a watchdog institution to oversee the activities of print and online media, has drawn a sharp rebuke from a media organization. The Internet Media Association released a statement today saying the group is “ashamed” of Yigit Bulut, a columnist for daily Habertürk and a TV executive and host for the channel of the same name.
Mr Bulut made his request to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan at a breakfast gathering with journalists on Saturday, calling for a body similar to the Supreme Board of Radio and Television, or RT?K, to be set up to provide more government control over print and Internet media. The prime minister said such a thing would be out of the question.
Fatih Altayli, chief editor for Habertürk and a friend of Bulut who also attended the breakfast, wrote the following day that the request “”roze the blood in his veins.” Despite the criticism, Mr Bulut reiterated his call in his column yesterday, saying such an institution is essential. Ironically, Mr Bulut’s televised political-debate show is titled “Sansürsüz” (Without Censor).
In its public statement, the Internet Media Association said the group found it unfortunate that a “freedom-limiting censor board” was suggested to the prime minister at a time when the country’s journalists are trying to expand freedoms in Turkey. The group also said the prime minister’s dismissal of Mr Bulut’s suggestion raised hopes about the public right to be informed and about democracy itself.
“We are also ashamed that this repressive opinion that turns a blind eye to [Internet] sites that employ hundreds of journalists, pay taxes and are visited by millions of people every day was voiced by an executive of Habertürk, which originated on the Internet,” the statement said.
The statement is open for news sites to sign; 25 have already done so.
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