Ebubekir Şahin, the Head of Turkey’s Supreme Board of Radio and Television (RTÜK), has given the first signs of a new step to censor the contents in the Internet in an interview with reactionary ‘’journalist’’ Ahmet Hakan from the pro-government Hürriyet Daily News on August 12.
‘‘The Regulation on the Presentation of Radio, Television and Optional Broadcasts on the Internet’’, published in the Official Gazette on August 1 after the approval of the Parliament, was harshly criticized because it was considered as a step towards the Internet censorship of the Turkish government.
Upon the public reactions, RTÜK President Ebubekir Şahin had claimed that the aim of the Turkish government is not the Internet censorship.
Asserting that some media organs distorted his statements on the measures taken by RTÜK, Şahin had even said in an interview with the state-run Anadolu Agency (AA): ‘‘Our attempts to regulate and control optional broadcasting on the Internet platforms will not contradict the natural flow of life. Realms of freedom of people are very valuable and meaningful for us.’’
‘‘As RTÜK, we are in solid communication with the top executives of platforms such as Netflix, Blu TV, and Turkcell Plus. Executives of these platforms are ready to do what is required for licensing,’’ Ebubekir Şahin stated in his interview with Ahmet Hakan.
Noting that the regulation does not cover the entire Internet, Şahin stated that the regulation concerns institutions that will carry out activities for radio and television broadcastings on the Internet.
REGULATION IMPOSES TAX OBLIGATION ON INTERNET BROADCASTING
‘‘Internet-based broadcasting companies had no tax liabilities. They had no legal responsibilities. We will end this situation by this regulation,’’ Ebubekir Şahin also said.
‘‘We will take precautions against the Internet contents that could affect the mental and physical development process of our children and the youth,’’ the Head of Turkey’s Supreme Board of Radio and Television concluded.
ONE OF THE BIGGEST STEPS IN THE CENSORSHIP HISTORY OF TURKEY
On August 1, RTÜK has been officially given the authority to regulate and monitor all Internet broadcasting shared on a regular basis.
The Regulation on the Presentation of Radio, Television and Optional Broadcasts on the Internet published in the Official Gazette grants RTÜK the authority to inspect and supervise movies, television series on digital TV platforms including Netflix, and social media platforms newscasting on a regular basis. Turkish government’s censorship attempts also cover news broadcasts on YouTube, excluding individual-based broadcasts. In this respect, those who will be broadcasting online will have to get a license from RTÜK.
According to the regulation, publishing services of broadcasting institutions, who want to broadcast in Turkey, will need to get licence from RTÜK first and will be monitored by the Turkish government even if their broadcast language is not Turkish.
While the experts warn the Turkish government’s recent move is one of the biggest steps in the censorship history of Turkey, it is expected that all media institutions producing alternative news and broadcasts against the government will be impacted and taken under control by the regulation.