GeriGündem AKP accused of Islamist staffing of Turkey's TRT
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AKP accused of Islamist staffing of Turkey's TRT

AKP accused of Islamist staffing of Turkey's TRT
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Turkey's first and only official national public broadcaster, TRT, is currently facing a radical wave of internal appointments, a move accepted as aiming to shift TRT’s autonomies policy toward a more Islamic axis, the Turkish Daily News (TDN) wrote on Monday.

The move paves way for the ruling AKP to appoint its partisans to the administrative positions in the Turkey's state-run Turkish Radio Television (TRT), media analysts told TDN.


Some 600 experienced Turkish Radio and Television Corporation staff, including high-level and executive personnel, have been shifted to the post of "researcher", a move TRT says has been initiated in line with the re-organization process and requirements of the institution.


Most of the transferred staff will now conduct research in the areas required by the institution as directed by their superiors. Among the transfers, 43 are from the Broadcast Inspection Committee, a critical unit, which overhauled all programs broadcast by TRT.


Salaries will also remain the same until wages are adjusted to that of researchers. The changes were made in accordance with the new amendments to the law on the TRT, which strives to be an independent and autonomous institution safeguarded by the Turkish Constitution.



"It is the first time in its history that the TRT is undergoing such a comprehensive operation, which even extends to directors and their deputies," Osman Kose, executive board member of Haber-Sen, the media and communication employees union, told Turkish Daily News.


"It requires a deep experience and decades of work to be able to hold the higher positions in TRT. The move, however, will render most experienced and senior staff inactive and pave the way for the ruling party to appoint its partisans from the pro-government and Islamist media to the vacant higher positions in the institution."


TRT, currently headed by Ibrahim Sahin, has always been criticized for partisan appointments and biased broadcasts in favor of the ruling parties. The recent move is the latest most explicit revelation of the tradition according to many media analysts.


Kose said the operation also challenged the autonomy of TRT in a country like Turkey, where all citizens, by law, have to pay contributions – taxed in their electricity bills – to the state-run broadcaster.


He said the ruling party was changing laws to control an institution, as it did in the cases of the Higher Education Board (YOK) and the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TUBITAK).


"The AKP is creating its own media and turning TRT into an Islamist axis and media," he said.



Tunca Toskay, the former head of TRT and deputy of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), said the move was the most radical in the broadcaster’s history and favored the ruling party.


"The AKP isn't satisfied with the existing Islamist media it created during its rule and is trying to add state media. The operation is also against the basic principles of the constitution, which secures the autonomy of TRT," he said.


"TRT is already making biased broadcasts in favor of the ruling party. With the operation, the AKP aims to place its partisans in critical positions within TRT."


Professor Sezer Akarcalı, from Ankara University's faculty of communication, said TRT was open to ideological manipulation as a state-owned institution and that it had so far been used by governments.


"The AKP has already created its own media and now eyes a state media. It can't even bear TRT, an independent institution," he said.


"The move is a kind of massacre of TRT's intellectual resources and a sign of progress toward a totalitarian regime," he added.


An administrative official from TRT said the institution had undergone reorganization and some units were shut down, with some more to be opened. The transferred personnel would therefore be utilized in line with the emerging needs of TRT in the coming period, he added.


"They will be appointed to other positions maintaining their former titles after a restructuring process of two months. We don't banish them to other places, so it is hard to understand why they cry," he said.


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