Five newspapers got 88 percent of ad penalties by Press Advertising Agency

The agency is channeling public ads to pro-government newspapers while preventing independent outlets’ income from ads, says media ombudsperson Bildirici.

The Press Advertising Agency (BİK) imposed public ad bans on newspapers for a total of 803 days in 2020, media ombudsperson Faruk Bildirici has revealed.

The agency cut public ads of newspapers for a total of 231 days for violating technical regulations and 572 days for violating ethical principles, he said in an article on his website, citing a response to him by the Presidency Communications Center (CİMER).

The BİK was founded in 1961 to financially support independent newspapers through public notices. In the last few years, it has been accused of using ad bans as a punitive tool against newspapers critical of the government.

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“In the 2000s, the fines wouldn’t exceed 100 days in total,” he wrote in the article. “[The BİK] not only channels public ads to pro-government newspapers but also punishes independent and critical newspapers.”

While the CİMER did not disclose which newspapers received the bans, Bildirici found by comparing the CİMER figures and BİK statements that 333 out of 376 days, or 88 percent, of fines against İstanbul-based newspapers, were imposed on five outlets: BirGün, Evrensel, Cumhuriyet, Sözcü and Korkusuz.

It was clear which newspapers published outside of the newspaper received the fines, Bildirici said and noted: “It shouldn’t be hard to guess that these fines were also given to independent and critical newspapers that are not sided with the government.”

He also noted that the BİK, exceeding its authority, had also been imposing penalties on newspapers based on their web content. (BIA HA/VK)