Deutsche Welle (DW) will shut down its Turkey office at the end of March after the Industry and Technology Ministry refused to extend its operation license.
Journalist İsmail Saymaz announced the move in his column on Halk TV on March 17, and said the ministry refused to extend the license “on the grounds that it chose its field of activity incorrectly” in line with the opinion of the Presidential Communications Directorate.
“DW Turkish is closing its office at the end of the month. Reporters and editors will be able to produce copyrighted content, they will not be staffed and insured,” Saymaz added, saying that the website of DW “angers the AKP government.”
The move came after a Turkish court on June 30 blocked access to the Turkish-language websites of Voice of America (VOA) and Deutsche Welle (DW) for not applying for licenses upon Turkey's Radio and Television Supreme Council’s (RTÜK) request.
Deutsche Welle and Voice of America said they would not apply for licences in Turkey as requested by RTÜK under the country's media regulation law, which critics say aims to increase censorship.
The vast majority of Turkey's mainstream media outlets are seen as close to the government, with coverage favoring President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his allies. Turks have increasingly resorted to alternative outlets, some foreign-owned, and social media for news.
Digital platforms are under the authority of RTÜK as part of a regulation that passed on Aug. 1, 2019. Broadcasting corporations can't operate without getting licenses from RTÜK as part of the amendment.
In line with Law 6112, RTÜK licenses television channels, radio stations, and video-on-demand content in addition to monitoring their content.
As part of the regulations, companies are forced to remove the content deemed inappropriate by RTÜK.
RTÜK, whose policymaking board is dominated by Erdoğan's ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and its allies, frequently fines broadcasters that are critical of the government.