The Turkish edition of the Lyon-based Euronews media outlet will no longer be required by Turkey’s media watchdog, the Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTÜK), to obtain a broadcasting license because it has removed the content that necessitated the license, according to a RTÜK member.
RTÜK member Okan Konuralp tweeted on Wednesday that RTÜK has revoked the order that Euronews get its website in Turkey licensed.
“RTÜK based its decision on the fact that Euronews removed the content which allegedly necessitated a license. The process has yet to be completed for DW and VoA,” said Konuralp, referring to the Turkish editions of Germany’s state-run broadcaster Deutsche Welle and Voice of America, the US state-owned international multimedia broadcaster.
The three international media outlets were facing the risk of an access ban due to a RTÜK decision in February ordering them to obtain broadcasting licenses. RTÜK gave the outlets a 72-hour-deadline to apply for licenses during which they submitted no applications.
While VOA and the DW announced at the time that they would not apply for broadcasting licenses and would instead take legal action against the threat of an access ban to their Turkish editions, Euronews remained silent.
VOA and the DW also described RTÜK’s move as an attempt at censorship.
Deutsche Welle Director General Peter Limbourg said RTÜK’s move was an attempt “to restrict the reporting of international media services.”
Licensing “gives the Turkish authorities the option to block the entire service based on individual, critical reports unless these reports are deleted,” Limbourg said, according to Deutsche Welle’s website. “This would open up the possibility of censorship. We will appeal against this decision and take legal action in the Turkish courts.”
VOA also said in a statement in late February that it would not abide by RTÜK’s demand for an online license, explaining that requiring a license for online broadcasting is tantamount to censorship.
“Licensing is the norm for radio and TV broadcasting, because the broadcast spectrum is a finite public resource, and governments have a recognized responsibility to regulate the spectrum to ensure it is used in the broader public’s interest,” VOA said in its statement. “The internet, by contrast, is not a limited resource, and the only possible purpose of a licensing requirement for internet distribution is enabling censorship.”
The Turkish editions of the three outlets are the only source of free and independent journalism for some people in Turkey, where the majority of the media is controlled by the government.
In 2019 Turkey revised its media regulations to allow RTÜK to supervise online broadcasts. Since the new regulations went into effect, various streaming platforms including Netflix and Amazon Prime have applied for and received licenses.
RTÜK is a controversial agency that is accused of contributing to increasing censorship in the country by imposing punitive and disproportionate sanctions on independent television and radio stations critical of the Turkish government.
According to Reporters Without Borders (RSF), 85 percent of the national media in Turkey is owned by pro-government businessmen who toe the official line.