The Supreme Council of Turkish Radio and Television (RTUK) has blocked the websites of German public broadcaster Deutsche Welle over licensing issues.
DW’s websites in all of its program languages, as well as those of the international broadcaster Voice Of America, were no longer accessible in Turkey on Thursday evening.
DW publishes information in 32 languages, including Turkish.
In February, Turkey’s media watchdog called on DW and other international outlets to seek broadcast permits, under a 2019 media law, or “face a broadcast ban” and have it blocked. their websites.
DW said in a statement that it did not comply because “a license would have allowed the Turkish government to censor editorial content.”
DW Managing Director Peter Limbourg said: “We had explained in lengthy correspondence and even in a personal conversation with the Chairman of the Media Control Authority why DW could not apply for such a licence. For example, licensed media in Turkey are required to remove online content that RTUK interprets as inappropriate. This is simply unacceptable for an independent broadcaster.”
“DW will take legal action against the blocking that has now taken place,” he added.
DW, along with other international broadcasters, is one of the few remaining news outlets where Turks can get independent information. In addition to DW, Voice of America and French company Euronews have also received notice to apply for a license.
DW had established a liaison office in Turkey in accordance with the 2019 law and has been registered with the relevant Turkish ministry since February 2020.
RTUK’s 10-member board is dominated by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erodgan’s conservative AKP party and its far-right ally, the MHP party.
Turkey has suffered a series of crackdowns on independent and dissenting voices in the media and among academics since a 2016 coup attempt against Erdogan’s regime.