Answer – On halting the broadcast of TV channels in Turkey – E-013775/2015

The Commission has noted with serious concern that the transmission of several TV channels and radio stations operating under Samanyolu Broadcasting Group were removed from the state-owned Turkish Satellite Communications Company (Türksat) infrastructure on Saturday 14 November 2015. The Commission is following the developments closely and reiterates the importance of respect of rule of law and media freedom.

The Commission has closely followed the legislative elections that took place on 1 November 2015 in Turkey and wishes to refer to the conclusions of the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE/ODIHR) limited electoral observation mission, which noted that the ‘1 November early parliamentary elections offered voters a variety of choices. The challenging security environment, in particular in the south-east, coupled with a high number of violent incidents, including attacks against party members and campaign staff, as well as on party premises, hindered contestants’ ability to campaign freely. Media freedom remains an area of serious concern and the number of criminal investigations of journalists and the closure of some media outlets, reduced voters’ access to a plurality of views and information’. The Commission has encouraged Turkey to take account of the OSCE/OIDHR recommendations.

In its 2015 enlargement strategy and report on Turkey, the Commission expressed concerns about a serious deterioration as regards the respect for freedom of expression. The Commission expects the new Turkish government to re-launch the reform agenda. The Commission is ready to work with the new government on all reforms in the area of rule of law and fundamental rights.