MEDYA FM REHA RADIO ve ÿletiÿim Hizmetleri A.ÿ v. TURKEY

Application Number: 32842/02

European Court of Human Rights

[Judgement delivered in French]

The applicant was a company which broadcasts radio programmes. Following several comments made which were considered as inciting people to violence, terrorism or racial discrimination, a ban was imposed on broadcasting for 365 days. The ECtHR found the application to be manifestly ill-founded as the speech could be classified as hate speech, an apology for violence or a call for violence.


Theme(s): Violence, terrorism

Date: 14 November 2006

Description of applicant(s):  Company which broadcasts radio programmes

Brief description of facts: The applicant was a company which broadcasts radio programmes. A decision was made to suspend its authorization due to comments made regarding the existence and independence of the Turkish Republic, as well as principles of State and national unity and the indivisibility of the nation.  The Supreme Administrative Court set aside the decision, which had never been enforced. However, according to national authorities, the applicant company again broadcasted comments that fell within the above framework and was issued with a warning by the broadcasting regulatory authority. After the applicant company had broadcasted comments considered by the regulatory body as being capable of inciting people to violence, terrorism or racial discrimination, or of provoking feelings of hatred, the regulatory body decided on two occasions to suspend its right to broadcast for a 30-day period, and finally imposed a ban on broadcasting for 365 days – the maximum penalty.

As an example, during one broadcast, the following was said:

“Hey kid, pick up the ball, the stones. Exhaust your anger with stones. Do you know why you have to build up your anger? You saw the ruins of your village. Gather your anger in secret. Let your anger become the punch. Let the punch become revolt. Gather revolt, accumulate revolt. Let the revolt become the revolution.”

(Alleged) target(s) of speech: Turkish State

The Court’s assessment of the impugned speech: The Court found that the speech constituted hate speech/call for violence/apology of violence and thus was not protected by the ECHR and that Turkey had a wide margin of appreciation in restricting expression in this realm.

Important paragraph(s) from the judgment:

When the impugned speech encourages the use of violence against an individual, a representative of the State or part of the population, the national authorities enjoy a margin of appreciation in their examination of the need for interference in the exercise of freedom of expression. In this connection, the Court reiterated that statements which could be classified as hate speech, an apology of violence or an incitement to violence, as is the case here, cannot be regarded as being compatible with the spirit of tolerance and runs counter to the fundamental values ​​of justice and peace expressed in the Preamble to the Convention

ECHR Article: Article 10

Decision: Manifestly ill-founded

Use of ‘hate speech’ by the Court in its assessment? Yes, see above.

Note! Translation form French to English is our own.