A newly passed regulation authorizing Turkey’s Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTÜK) to exercise vast powers over online streaming services took effect as of Monday, the BirGün news website reported.
According to the regulation the deadline for Internet broadcasters to obtain a license from RTÜK passed on Sunday and their content became subject to supervision on Monday.
One opposition member of RTÜK, İlhan Taşcı from the Republican People’s Party (CHP), said the timing of the regulation was curious as it coincides with a report from the Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research (SETA), a pro-government think tank that criticized the activities of international media outlets in Turkey.
“Think about this, this regulation waited for a year after it was drafted, only to be passed on the heels of a SETA report,” he told BirGün. “What’s written in that SETA report is a roadmap for the broadcasters to be monitored.”
“RTÜK’s primary target will be foreign providers such as the Turkish language services of BBC, Deutsche Welle, Voice of America, The Independent, Sputnik and Euronews.”
“Controlling 95 percent of the mainstream media was not enough for the government. So now they will put these online outlets under the same scrutiny,” Taşcı said.
Under the new regulation, RTÜK is authorized to cancel broadcasting licenses, and the Penal Courts of Peace are given the power to forbid access to any URL. The courts can also prohibit access to Internet media channels.