(Bloomberg) -- Turkey’s broadcasting watchdog ordered TV networks to restrain their coverage of forest fires sweeping the country’s southwest, after intense criticism of government attempts to extinguish the blazes.
“We are not against reporting the wildfires, we are against content that creates uproar and chaos,” Ibrahim Uslu, deputy chairman of the the Radio and Television Supreme Council, said by phone on Tuesday.
“Broadcasting images from the scene is not beneficial but harmful,” he said, citing coverage that included hurt animals and people screaming. “It may be reported as soft as possible.”
The council criticized channels for focusing on fires still burning while omitting those that have been put out. Networks that ignore the order face fines and broadcast bans.
Raging Wildfires Provide Bleak Backdrop for Embattled Erdogan
Turkey is grappling with its worst wildfires in decades as the eastern Mediterranean region bakes under near-record temperatures. The government’s response has been assailed online, especially after ministers conceded that critical firefighting aircraft weren’t fit for use after inadequate maintenance.
As the criticism peaked over the weekend, the office of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan sought to portray it as part of a foreign plot to weaken Turkey.
Angry residents of the village of Hisaronu attacked a reporter from state-run TRT television who claimed during a broadcast that fires had been extinguished in the area.
“Turning cameras away from the fires doesn’t mean they were put out. Those cameras have to be the public’s ears and eyes,” said Ilhan Tasci, a member of the broadcasting council from the main opposition party, the CHP.
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