The decision by Turkey’s Radio and Television High Council (RTÜK) requesting several international news outlets to file a broadcast license application must not lead to further harassment of media, the International Press Institute (IPI) said today. As the regulator has a proven pattern of harassing independent media over critical coverage of the government and its allies and policies, this decision puts international independent media operating in Turkey online under state scrutiny and risks making them the target of fines and even broadcast bans.
On February 9, RTÜK opposition member İlhan Taşçı announced on his social media account that the regulatory body had given international news outlets Deutsche Welle Turkish, Voice of America Turkish, and Euronews Turkish a 72-hour time limit to apply for a license for online broadcasting. RTÜK was granted expanded powers to monitor online broadcasting in 2019, which compelled online broadcasters to obtain a license from RTÜK. However, the vaguely defined regulation over online broadcasting caused concerns due to the wide scope of RTÜK’s authority, ranging from on-demand platforms to regular and/or scheduled online broadcasts to amateur home video makers.
“Since 2019 regulation, this is the first time that RTÜK has implemented its powers over international news outlets”, Taşçı told IPI. “With this decision RTÜK officially expands its regular monitoring over nation-wide broadcasters to international broadcasting.” Taşçı also said that the official time frame will begin after the High Council’s decision is uploaded to its website, which may take several days still.