Turkey Calls Online Content Companies to Obtain Broadcasting Licenses

  • Online streaming companies and news agencies will now have to obtain a license from RTÜK.
  • The Turkish parliament decided that 30 days would be enough for this plan to be implemented.
  • Freedom of speech advocates warns that this is the biggest censorship step ever for Turkey.

In a move that some see as a pretense for blatant internet censorship, the Turkish government is making the acquisition of broadcast licenses from RTÜK mandatory, so all online media content providers and companies will either get it or go silent in the country. RTÜK is Turkey’s Radio and Television Supreme Council, and is the country’s state agency responsible for monitoring, regulating, and sanctioning all forms of broadcasts. Apparently, the TV and radio watchdog will now receive an upgraded role and one that includes the overseeing of internet content.

This new law sets a deadline of 30 days for all the concerned entities to comply. Those who will get licensed but broadcast content that isn’t permitted by RTÜK will lose their license for three months, or even indefinitely. That sounds like a part of an oppressive regime’s politics, and President Erdogan has really ramped up his authoritarian approach of ruling since the 2016 coup d'état attempt against him. Already, there have been thousands of journalist arrests, and the recent UN reports have detailed extensive human rights violations, lack of freedom of the press, and also freedom of speech for the Turkish people.

All that said, the new requirement will affect both foreign streaming platforms such as Netflix, which is available in Turkey, and local websites like PuhuTV and BluTV. With no details about the exact requirements that would secure a license having surfaced yet, online broadcasters are nervous as to what they should expect and what adjustments they’ll need to perform to make their content suitable. Experts and analysts who are familiar with Erdogan’s methods worry that this is just another step towards the tightest control of what information is published in the country, eventually enabling the AK Party to filter out all that is written and spoken against it.

While we have previously published a list with the most reliable VPN tools to use in Turkey, it is important to point out that the media that will get censored, will get crippled and possibly taken out of business, so using a VPN or not won’t matter much. However, in countries like Turkey, people who care about listening to alternative voices should be very mindful and precautious, so using a VPN tool should be a no-brainer if you live in Turkey. We will follow the developments as the law gets implemented, and we will report on the specific recommendations that will be given by the RTÜK.

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