Wildfires are raging all over Turkey. Opposition parties and city mayors are criticising the government for its incompetence in dealing with the situation and repeatedly asking why firefighting planes remain grounded. In the meantime, the Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTÜK) has released an announcement regarding the media coverage of wildfires.
The announcement starts with an emphasis on the significance of “state-nation-media cooperation” during disasters.
This is followed by a warning that, “intensifying the emotional impact of the fires on the people is not a solution to anything.”
Another warning comes about certain sectors who are “seeking chaos”:
“Ignoring the successful extinguishing of fires in 130 locations by emergency teams and persistently putting raging fires onto the screens is the sort of broadcast policy expected by sectors seeking an atmosphere of chaos.”
The supreme council then recalls that they have started a monitoring and reporting process, and that broadcasts about wildfires must be made in accordance with the law regulating radio and TV broadcasts.
“Otherwise,” it says, “it will be necessary to apply the most severe penalties to media outlets that do not comply.”
It has been reported on the Turkish media recently that Turkey’s aerial firefighting capacity has been crippled due to neglect of the maintenance of the Turkish Aeronautical Institution (THK)’s firefighting planes following the appointment of a trustee to the institution in 2019.
The trustee, Cenap Aşçı, declined to respond to questions from the media, but said that a budget of four million dollars was required to reactivate six firefighting planes.
Turkey is now receiving or asking for assistance from a list of countries for aerial firefighting.
RTÜK is the Turkish state agency for monitoring, regulating, and sanctioning radio and television broadcasts. It was founded in 1994 and is composed of nine members elected by the Grand National Assembly of Turkey. In 2019, it started regulating and sanctioning broadcasts on the internet including those of Netflix.