Last Updated: Friday, 19 May 2023, 07:24 GMT

TV debate programme suspended because of references to Armenian genocide

Publisher Reporters Without Borders
Publication Date 29 June 2010
Cite as Reporters Without Borders, TV debate programme suspended because of references to Armenian genocide, 29 June 2010, available at: [accessed 23 May 2023]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Reporters Without Borders strongly condemns a decision by the Radio and TV Supreme Council (RTÜK) to ban the privately-owned TV station Habertürk from broadcasting one of its regular "One on One" discussion programmes next month as a punishment for comments about the 1915 Armenian massacres made by a guest on one of the previous programmes.

The offending programme, a debate between Yusuf Halaçoglu, the former president of the Turkish Institute of History (TTK) and Sevan Nisanyan, a journalist of Armenian origin, was broadcast on 9 March, just a few days after the US House Foreign Affairs Committee adopted a resolution referring to the 1915 massacres as "genocide." It was Nisanyan's comments that upset the RTÜK.

In a decision taken on 16 June but not made public until 24 June, the RTÜKtold Habertürk it cannot broadcast the "One on One" programme scheduled for 13 July and will instead have to broadcast messages chosen by the RTÜK.

Reporters Without Borders regards this disproportionate punishment as censorship pure and simple, and calls on the RTÜK to rescind the decision. Free expression must prevail even when there are opposing opinions on sensitive issues. It is part of the duties of journalists to organise debates in which different views are aired.

This decision has the effect of censoring an entire programme because of one debate with which the RTÜK disagreed. Reporters Without Borders can only regret that a regulatory body should assume it has the right to decide the terms in which an historical event can be discussed.

A linguist, writer and reporter for the daily Taraf, Nisanyan criticised "the state policy that constantly tries to find an excuse to explain the massacre of hundreds of thousands of Armenians and their deportation."

The RTÜK said Nisanyan had accused the Turkish Republic of being "shameless" and immoral" and that Habertürk had therefore violated article 4 of Law 3984 on radio and TV broadcasts, which forbids broadcasters to "exceed the limits of criticism and insult an institution."

In Reporters Without Borders' view, the article's wording is extremely vague and gives officials too much leeway for subjective - usually ultraconservative - interpretation that prevents Turkish society from tackling vital issues.

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