Turkey hands vast powers to broadcasting watchdog to monitor Internet

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Turkey has issued new regulations in the Official Gazette authorizing the country’s Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTÜK) to exercise vast powers over Internet broadcasting, including Netflix, according to Turkish media.

From now on, Internet broadcasters must apply for a license from RTÜK in order to continue streaming online as well as obtaining an official trade registration.

While RTÜK is authorized to cancel broadcasting licenses, the Penal Courts of Peace are given the power to forbid access to any URL.

Any Penal Court of Peace can prohibit access to Internet media channels.

For Internet radio, broadcasters are required pay TL10,000 ($1,800) for a license, while Internet TV providers must pay TL 100,000 ($18,000).

Paid subscription-based Internet streamers such as Netflix or one of its Turkish equivalents like BluTV must pay 0.5 percent of their annual revenue from subscribers to RTÜK as a commission.

In addition to these payments, Internet broadcasters are obliged to annually pay TL100,000.

Yaman Akdeniz, an expert on Internet laws and regulations, wrote on Twitter that the vast powers given to RTÜK might also lead to a form of censorship targeting YouTube channels of foreign media outlets’ Turkish language services.

Deutsche Welle and BBC have popular Turkish language Internet broadcasts.

Since a failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016, the Turkish government has closed down dozens of critical media outlets and arrested hundreds of journalists critical of it on coup or terrorism charges.

The only venue in which government critics can air their opinions is the digital media; however, the new regulations aim to control it.

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