In a decision that cast a further shadow over press freedom in Turkey, a court on Thursday evening banned access to the Turkish editions of two international news sites operating in the country based on a request by the dog of the country’s media, radio and television. Supreme Council (RTÜK).
When readers went to access these news sites on Thursday evening, they saw a notice that access to the site had been blocked by a court order in Ankara.
In February, RTÜK set a 72-hour deadline for three international news agencies — the Turkish edition of VOA, the US state-owned international media broadcaster; German public broadcaster Deutsche Welle; and the Lyon-based company Euronews — to apply for online broadcasting licenses.
The move was described by the media as an attempt to censor and extend Turkish government control over domestic media to foreign media, which are the only source of free and independent journalism for some people in Turkey, where the majority of media is controlled by the government.
Deutsche Welle and VOA challenged RTÜK’s decision and announced that they would appeal its decision and take legal action. As for Euronews, the outlet removed content that required the license and was therefore no longer required to obtain a broadcast license, according to an announcement by an RTÜK member in April.
After the ban on access to the two news sites began on Thursday, RTÜK member İlhan Taşçı expressed outrage at the decision, tweeting, “Here comes press freedom and advanced democracy.” Taşçı belongs to the main opposition party, the Republican People’s Party (CHP), and is known to have voted against RTÜK decisions in violation of press freedom.
In 2019, Turkey revised its media regulations to allow RTÜK to oversee online broadcasts. Since the new regulations came into force, various streaming platforms, including Netflix and Amazon Prime, have applied for and obtained licenses.
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.
According to Reporters Without Borders (RSF), 90% of national media in Turkey, ranked 149th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2022 World Press Freedom Index, are owned by pro-government businessmen and toe the official line. .