Turkey’s media watchdog RTÜK once again orders DW to apply for license

Turkey’s media watchdog RTÜK on Nov. 10 once again imposed a 72-hour limit for the Deutsche Welle (DW) Turkish to apply for a publication license for its alternative websites. The alternative addresses used by the Germany-based news website will be blocked if it does not apply for a license within the allotted time.

Duvar English

The Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTÜK) of Turkey on Nov. 10 ordered the online Germany-based news website Deutsche Welle (DW) Turkish to apply for a publication license within 72 hours. The websites will be blocked if DW does not apply for a publication license from RTÜK within the allotted time. 

RTÜK’s 72-hour license imposition targeted the alternative links of the news outlet, dwturkce.com, and inspiredminds.de/tr, which were employed after RTÜK banned the main address of DW on July 1, 2022. 

RTÜK passed the decision on Nov. 8 with a majority vote and published the decision on Nov. 10. The decision stated that the council would request a court-ordered access ban on the websites if DW does not apply for a license by Nov. 13 morning. 

Main opposition Republican People’s Party’s (CHP) RTÜK member Tuncay Keser shared his disappointment with the decision through his social media. “There is no tolerance towards freedom of the press, polyphony, or journalism,” he lamented. 

RTÜK imposed the same 72-hour rule in 2022 on the main address of the German news website DW alongside the U.S. news website Voice of America (VOA). Access to the news websites was banned on July 1st, 2022 as they did not apply for a publication license in the given period. 

The news outlet stated it did not apply for a license, as its conditions were incompatible with German laws and could lead to censorship. After the access ban was enacted, DW Turkish migrated its content to two new alternate links, dwturkce.com and inspiredminds.de/tr.

The news organization appealed to the Constitutional Court of Turkey and claimed the access ban encroached on the right to expression and freedom of the press, and violated multiple bylaws. 

DW’s Turkish publications head Erkan Arıkan remarked that the RTÜK decision violated freedom of the press principles, and added that such restrictions could be overcome with the help of technology. 

Arıkan expressed DW Turkish’s dedication. “We will continue to deliver updates from Europe, Germany, and Turkey with different perspectives, and contexts through different platforms, like we always have,” he said. 

The news outlet had to shut down its Turkey office at the end of March after the Industry and Technology Ministry refused to extend its operation license on the grounds that "it chose its field of activity incorrectly.” in line with the opinion of the Presidential Communications Directorate.

The RTÜK regulation enacted in 2019 requires foreign news outlets that publish in Turkey to apply for publication licenses. The news outlets are bound by multiple conditions for RTÜK to approve their applications. One such clause requires that at least half of the media organization applying for a license be owned by a Turkish citizen. 

As part of the regulations, companies are forced to remove the content deemed inappropriate by RTÜK.

In line with Law 6112, RTÜK licenses television channels, radio stations, and video-on-demand content in addition to monitoring their content.