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The Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTÜK) has issued a censorship threat against VOA Türkçe, formerly known as amerikaninsesi.com, which it had blocked access to in June 2022 due to the website’s failure to apply for a license.
RTÜK has given VOA Türkçe a 72-hour deadline to apply for a license. If the news outlet does not submit an application, access to voaturkce.com will also be blocked.
In its announcement, RTÜK referred to voaturkce.com as an “internet domain name where broadcasting service is provided without obtaining an internet broadcasting license.”
Furthermore, RTÜK warned that if the outlet does not submit an application along with the required documents and a commitment letter, fails to pay the advance fee for the broadcast license equivalent to three months, or does not cease broadcasting services within 72 hours after this notice, RTÜK will request the removal of content and/or the blocking of access through the Court of Peace according to the second paragraph of Article 29/A of Law No. 6112. Additionally, RTÜK will take action in accordance with the first paragraph of Article 33 of the same law.
RTÜK’s censorship regulations and access restrictions
The regulation that mandates online platforms to obtain broadcasting licenses from RTÜK was published in the Official Gazette on August 1, 2019.
Digital platforms and video broadcasting organizations fall under the supervision of RTÜK. The regulation has led RTÜK to require organizations to pay fees for licenses. As a result, broadcasting organizations have been forced to remove content deemed inappropriate by RTÜK from their catalogs.
On February 21, 2022, RTÜK demanded that Voice of America (VOA), DW Türkçe, and Euronews apply for licenses to continue their broadcasts to Turkey. Euronews complied and removed content that was required for obtaining a broadcasting license from its website. RTÜK later revoked its decision regarding Euronews.
However, both VOA Türkçe and DW Türkçe neither applied for licenses nor removed the content. Consequently, on June 30, 2022, the Ankara 1st Criminal Peace Judge’s Office ordered the blocking of both websites. VOA Türkçe continued its broadcasts by changing its domain name. The newspapers also took the matter to court. However, the Constitutional Court’s evaluation of the case has been pending for a year.
When the regulation was initially introduced, RTÜK charged 10,000 lira for an internet radio license and 100,000 lira for internet television broadcasting and on-demand service licenses. In 2022, these fees were raised to 18,217 lira for radios and 182,168 lira for television and on-demand services. RTÜK then further increased the fees by 122.93% at the beginning of the year.
For 2023, the fee for radios is 40,611 lira, and for television and on-demand services, it is 406,107 lira.
CLICK – BİA Media Monitoring Database
CLICK – BİA Media Monitoring Reports
CLICK – BİA Media Monitoring 2023 2nd Quarterly Report