26 September 2023

TURKEY: Ban placed on two broadcasters

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Turkey’s media watchdog has banned the access of public service broadcasters, Voice of America (VOA) and Deutsche Welle of Germany.

The Turkish Supreme Board of Radio and Television (RTUK) enforced a February warning to the two organisations to apply for a broadcast license or be blocked.

Now, neither website is available in Turkey.

Deutsche Welle is German taxpayer-funded and Voice of America is funded by the United States Government through the US Agency for Global Media.

In a statement, Deutsche Welle said it did not comply with the licensing requirement because it would have allowed the Turkish Government to censor editorial content.

Director General, Peter Limbourg said this was explained in detail to the RTUK.

“For example, media licensed in Turkey are required to delete online content that RTUK interprets as inappropriate,” Mr Limbourg (pictured) said.

“This is simply unacceptable for an independent broadcaster,” he said.

“Deutsche Welle will now take legal action against the blocking.”

The move is based on an August 2019 regulation giving the RTUK power to demand online media should be licensed and pay fees.

The RTUK Board is dominated by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling party and its nationalist allies, and regularly fines critical broadcasters.

Voice of America noted in February that while licensing for television and radio broadcasts was the norm because broadcast airwaves are finite resources, the internet does not have limited bandwidth.

“The only possible purpose of a licensing requirement for internet distribution is enabling censorship,” VOA said in a statement then.

Turkey was rated ‘Not Free’ for 2021 on the Freedom of the Net index by Freedom House.

Hundreds of thousands of domains and web addresses have been blocked.

Ankara, 4 July 2022

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