ANKARA (Reuters) – Turkey’s broadcasting watchdog has given three international news agencies 72 hours to obtain an operating licence or else have access to their platforms blocked, a member of the agency said on Wednesday.
Ilhan Tasci, who is also an opposition lawmaker, criticised the move by the Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTUK) to request licences from the Turkish language websites of German broadcaster Deutsche Welle, Voice of America and Euronews, saying it marked a further assault on media freedom in Turkey.
“A decision was taken with a majority of votes that 72 hours be granted to the websites of amerikaninsesi.com, dw.com/tr, and tr.euronews.com to get licences,” Tasci, one of nine members of the RTUK higher board, said in a tweet.
The RTUK board, which is dominated by the ruling AK Party, was not immediately available to comment on why it had requested the licences.
Turkey has in recent years moved to increase media oversight by giving the RTUK sweeping oversight over all online content, which it also has the power to remove. About 90% of mainstream media in Turkey is now owned by the state or is close to the government.
Tasci said RTUK’s real target was media freedom.
“After the national media, it is the turn of international news sites to be supervised and muzzled. With RTUK’s ‘there are videos on the site, it must get a licence’ approach, there will be no unsupervised news outlets left,” he said.
Western allies and rights groups have accused President Tayyip Erdogan’s government of using a 2016 failed coup as a pretext to muzzle dissent. The government denies this, saying its measures are needed due to security threats facing Turkey.
During his nearly two decades in power, Erdogan has often criticised media content that is out of step with the conservative Islamic values espoused by his AK Party.
(Reporting by Tuvan Gumrukcu; Editing by Ece Toksabay and Gareth Jones)