Nordic Monitor reported in April that in disclosures filed under the Foreign Agent Registration Act (FARA), the US office of Turkey’s public broadcaster TRT falsely claimed it acts independently of the Turkish government. According to the report:
April 20, 2022 In disclosures filed under the Foreign Agent Registration Act (FARA), Turkey’s public broadcaster’s Washington office, operating under the Turkish Radio and Television Corporation, mischaracterized its ties to the AKP and the office of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, claiming that it acts independently of the Turkish government. […] In the FARA filing made by Yürekli on March 12, 2020, TRT Washington’s corporation claimed it was neither directed nor controlled by a foreign government or political party even though it acknowledged that it was entirely financed from Turkey and supervised by the Erdoğan government. Yürekli also tried to distance TRT from direct government funding, saying the funds that come from Turkey are collected from taxpayers through various schemes and claimed “TRT does not receive any funds from a foreign government or a foreign political party.”
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The report notes that in 2020 alone, TRT received 1,2 billion Turkish lira from a new government scheme, an increase of over 2,000% from a decade ago. Last March, the Global Influence Operations Report reported that TRT activity reports said the company had a budget of 7.2 billion lira (about 1 billion dollars) for 2017–2019. According to data compiled by Open Secrets, the US branch of TRT (Turkish Radio Television Corp) received at least $2,3 million from TRT between 2020–2022.
The Nordic Monitor report also says that while in its FARA filing, TRT claimed that it “operates as an impartial public economic enterprise,” the media company’s board of directors is appointed by the government and includes mostly Erdoğan loyalists:
The composition of the TRT board of directors tells a different tale than the one offered by the network’s Washington bureau to FARA officials. It is neither an impartial board nor a body independent of the government. In July 2021 President Erdoğan appointed Hilal Kaplan, one of the chief propagandists of the regime, as a member of the TRT board. […] Other newly appointed members have similar profiles, and all were handpicked to operate according to the Erdoğan government’s policies. Oğuz Göksu, a staff member in the Presidential Communications Directorate; the directorate’s Media Relations Coordinator Mücahid Eker; Associate Professor Veysel Kurt, a researcher at the intelligence-linked think tank the Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research (SETA); the pro-government English-language newspaper Daily Sabah’s Editorial Coordinator Meryem İlayda Atlas; and Labor and Social Security Minister Vedat Bilgin’s son Oğuzhan Bilgin were named as new members as well.
The Turkish Radio and Television Corporation (TRT) is the national public broadcaster of Turkey, funded by the Turkish government. Turkey has criticized the channel for its clear pro-government bias and for providing little airtime for opposition parties, even during election campaigns. TRT offers online news services in Turkish and 36 other languages, including French, German, and Spanish. While its international English-language channel TRT World has rebranded itself to join the ranks of BBC and Al Jazeera, it has been criticized for disseminating content primarily aimed at swaying the perceptions of an international audience in favor of the Erdoğan government’s domestic and foreign policy objectives.