Turkey moves to supervise online content, tightens grip on mediaReutersNovember 13, 2018
ANKARA (Reuters) – Turkey’s parliament has approved a bill granting the radio and television watchdog authority to regulate online content, fuelling concerns about further restrictions on the media.
Two local streaming websites, PuhuTV and BluTV, have produced popular shows in the past year whose content and language would likely be censored if broadcast on television.
The bill requires broadcasters wishing to stream content online to be licensed by the RTUK watchdog, subjecting them to the same criteria as TV broadcasters.
RTUK will be able to report unlicenced shows to a criminal court which can ban them.
“A possibility is being created for institutions wishing to stream radio and television content only over the internet to receive a licence for only this purpose,” the law reads, adding that these broadcasters currently avoid content regulation as well as taxes.
A member of the RTUK board from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) said the licensing process had been made more difficult by a recent decree that requires the approval of the license by the National Intelligence Agency (MIT) and the Security General Directorate (EGM).
Turkey’s post-coup crackdown has seen dozens of independent media outlets shut down for what the government says are links to terrorism.
The Turkish Journalists Association says that as of January, there were 154 journalists in jail.
The bill was passed late on Wednesday, hours before business group Dogan Holding confirmed it had started talks to sell its $890 million media arm to the pro-government Demiroren Holding, a deal seen as further cementing media support for Erdogan.
Reporting by Gulsen Solaker; Writing by Ali Kucukgocmen; Editing by Dominic Evans and Richard Balmforth