The Turkish government is planning to grant the authority to censor Internet TV channels to Turkey’s Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTÜK) under the pretext of halting controversial broadcasts by Adnan Oktar, a notorious sex cult leader, TV personality and creationist.
The measure is included an omnibus bill, amending several laws at once, sent to Parliament on Friday.
If the measure goes into effect, RTÜK will be able to revoke the licenses of Internet channels just like it does for TV channels on the grounds that they broadcast inappropriate content.
Government sources claim the measure is aimed at halting controversial broadcasts made on Oktar’s A9 Internet channel; however, main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy İlhan Taşçı, who is a member of RTÜK, has told Turkish media outlets that the Turkish government is seeking to introduce Internet censorship using Oktar’s A9 channel as a pretext and that such a move would likely violate “freedom ofcommunication”as enshrined in the Turkish Constitution.
Oktar is a controversial TV personality whose show mixes theological discussions with visits from attractive young female devotees called “kittens.” The kittens call Oktar “master” and sometimes hold their own discussions about why the theory of evolution is fallacious.
Last week, Oktar attracted criticism from head of Turkey’s Religious Affairs Directorate (Diyanet), Ali Erbaş, who said: “There are certain religious references [on Oktar’s TV show], and he makes belly dancers dance. Is such a thing possible? He has most likely lost his mental balance.”
“It is not right to watch a TV channel like [Oktar’s]. The authority to ban a TV station does not belong to the Diyanet, but the authorized [institution] should ban it,” Erbaş suggested.
Oktar makes the controversial broadcasts not on his TV channel for fear of being punished by RTÜK but on the Internet using his TV channel’s logo, A9.
RTÜK currently does not have the authority to ban Internet broadcasts.