Local TV censored

NEWS

Local TV taken off air for playing 200-year-old Kurdish song
From AFP (Associated French Press)

A 200-year-old Kurdish song caused the closure last week of a television station operating in southeastern Turkey, home to the country’s Kurdish population. Gun-TV was taken off air on Friday for one month after broadcasting the song.
The decision made by Turkey’s Council of Radio and Television, is seen by its owner and other local media as another example of continuing repression of media freedoms in the region. “The pretext is ridiculous,” Gun-TV’s owner Nevzat Bingol said. “The incriminating song is 200 years old and has been broadcast on national television but we are reproached for even acknowledging that Kurds live in this region.”
Another dozen radio and television stations in the region also face the same penalty. Bingol, who is to appeal against the decision, said he was not surprised by the order as it is the 17th time he has been shut down. The ruling comes despite Turkey’s Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit recently declaring he is to propose the introduction of Kurdish-language programs. Ecevit said he would present his proposal to the country’s army-dominated National Security Council.

Turkish is the only language allowed on national television but the EU has constantly pressed Ankara to allow Kurdish-language television for its large Kurdish minority as part of reforms needed to join the union. The Turkish press has reported that the minister responsible for the media was preparing a daily one-hour Kurdish-language news program to be broadcast on one of the five public television channels. But local journalists in the region remain sceptical.
“Under the Ottoman administration, there was never a Kurdish-language newspaper here, and I fear there won’t be one for a long time,” said Naci Sapan, the president of the association of journalists in Turkey’s southeast. Some 29 newspapers, weeklies and monthly publications in the Kurdish language or who are seen to be supportive of the Kurdish cause are banned in the Kurdish provinces. However, they are available in the rest of Turkey, according to the Association of Human Rights.

Another two independent newspapers in the province of Diyarbakir are also struggling to ensure they stay on the right side of authorities, as are two local TV channels, including Gun-TV.
“It is clear that I’m in the firing line because I openly support the lifting of the state of emergency, so I am persecuted for expressing my opinions,” Bingol said.
With programs constantly facing censorship and with no right to broadcast in Kurdish, the two channels restrict themselves to broadcasting mainly cultural programs. “We live behind an iron curtain with daily psychological torture,” Bingol said.