The countdown begins for 3 international media outlets in Turkey to get licenses or get banned

A 72-hour deadline set by Turkey’s broadcasting watchdog, the Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTÜK), for three international news agencies to apply for online broadcasting licenses started running on Monday , announced a member of RTÜK.

RTÜK member İlhan Taşçı of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) tweeted on Monday that RTÜK had posted on its website its decision regarding Turkish international media services (Voice of America), (German broadcaster Deutsche Welle) and to apply for a license and the 72-hour period has begun.

“RTÜK will ask the court for a ban on news sites that have not applied for a license,” Taşçı tweeted.

Taşçı was the first to announce on February 9 RTÜK’s decision to demand online broadcasting licenses from the three international media outlets.

The Turkish editions of the three media outlets are the only source of free and independent journalism for some people in Turkey, where the majority of media is government-controlled.

Taşçı said that although a law granting RTÜK the power to oversee online news websites came into force in 2019, RTÜK wants to use this authority now, three years later, for the three websites of information.

In 2019, Turkey revised its media regulations to allow RTÜK to oversee online broadcasts. Since the new regulations came into effect, various streaming platforms, including Netflix and Amazon Prime, have applied for and obtained licenses.

VOA, the US state-owned international media broadcaster, has pledged to do its best to ensure its audience in Turkey has free and open access to the internet if its Turkish service is blocked by the Turkish government.

“VOA believes that any government effort to silence the media is a violation of press freedom, a fundamental value of all democratic societies,” VOA spokeswoman Bridget Serchak said in a written statement to the media. following the decision of the RTÜK at the beginning of the month.

RTÜK is a controversial agency which is accused of helping to increase censorship in the country by imposing punitive and disproportionate sanctions on independent television and radio stations that criticize the Turkish government.

In 2019, the Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research (SETA), a pro-government think tank in Turkey, published a 202-page report titled “The Ramifications of International Media Organizations in Turkey” and charted the profile of journalists working for the Turkish language services of international media. public broadcasters, including VOA, BBC, Deutsche Welle and Sputnik. The authors alleged that their coverage was one-sided and unfair to the Turkish government. Journalists’ associations and unions in Turkey condemned the report and accused SETA of profiling journalists.

According to Reporters Without Borders (RSF), 85% of national media in Turkey are owned by pro-government businessmen who toe the official line.

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