Deutsche Welle must apply for a license or face further blocks in Turkey
In a recent move by Turkey's RTUK (Radio and Television Supreme Council), Deutsche Welle (DW) has been handed a three-day ultimatum to apply for a broadcasting license for its alternative online platforms. DW, an international broadcaster headquartered in Germany, has operated these platforms since facing an access block in Turkey on July 1, 2022.
Following a decision on November 8, RTUK made a formal announcement on November 10, stipulating that DW would be allowed to continue its operations in Turkey, provided it applies for a license for its alternative addresses by the deadline. The countdown for DW began on November 10, with RTÜK emphasizing that failing to comply would result in a court-requested access ban on these alternative channels.
In its public statement, RTUK warned, "Broadcasting services must either submit the required documents and payment for a three-month license fee in advance or cease their broadcasting within 72 hours following this announcement. Non-compliance will lead to legal actions for content removal or access blockage under the relevant articles of Law No. 6112."
Amid the regulatory pressure, RTUK member Tuncay Keser took to social media to express his views on the decision. He highlighted the unanimity of the decision to impose a 72-hour deadline on DW for a broadcasting license application and the resolve to initiate judicial measures to ban access if DW fails to apply. Keser's comments underscored his concern over the implications for press freedom and journalistic independence.
Background of the licensing dispute
The controversy began with a regulation introduced in 2019, which necessitated internet broadcasters to obtain licenses from RTUK. In February 2022, DW, Voice of America (VOA), and Euronews were given a 72-hour notice to comply with this requirement. DW contested the mandate, arguing that the license terms were at odds with German law and could result in censorship.
After DW's non-compliance, an Ankara court imposed an access ban on the broadcaster in June 2022. DW's 32 language services, including its Turkish broadcasts, were affected due to their refusal to remove live streaming and video content features.
In response, DW resorted to alternative web addresses, dwturkce.com, and inspiredminds.de/en, to circumvent the block and continue providing content to its Turkish audience. DW has also appealed to the Turkish Constitutional Court, asserting that the licensing requirement violates the tenets of free expression and press freedom as enshrined in the Turkish Constitution and the European Convention on Human Rights.