German media outlet Deutsche Welle (DW) announced that they will take the Turkish media regulator to court over its imposition on media outlets to apply for a licence regarding its Turkish language online news publishing, on the grounds that some of the content consisted of videos.
In the written statement by DW on Tuesday, it was indicated that the Turkish Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTÜK) gave them 72 hours to apply for a licence to be allowed to continue with their publishing activities in Turkey.
The RTÜK declaration in question was published on its website on Monday.
DW general director Peter Limbourg said:
“After having subjected the local media outlets in Turkey to such regulation, an attempt is now being made to restrict the reporting of international media services. This move does not relate to formal aspects of broadcasting, but to the journalistic content itself. It gives the Turkish authorities the option to block the entire service based on individual, critical reports unless these reports are deleted. This would open up the possibility of censorship. We will appeal against this decision and take legal action in the Turkish courts.”
The statement also emphasised that DW, alongside other international broadcasters, is one of the few remaining news outlets from which people in Turkey can obtain independent information.
It added that DW had a liaison office in Turkey in accordance with a law from 2019, and has been registered with the relevant Turkish ministry since February 2020.
Voice of America (VOA) and the French media outlet Euronews have also been called on to apply for licence.
VOA spokesperson Bridget Serchak earlier said that it would do its best to ensure that its audience in Turkey has free and open access to the internet if its Turkish service is blocked by the Turkish government, adding that such an attempt would be a violation of press freedom, a core value of all democratic societies.
Following criticism by VOA and DW, the RTÜK released a statement, saying that concerns were ‘unfounded’.
“It is unnecessary for anyone to have unfounded concerns and doubts about the freedom of expression and press freedom, or to make statements that cast aspersions on our Supreme Council, which conducts its activities within legal frameworks.”