Following a court ruling by the Ankara criminal court, the websites of foreign media Deutsche Well and Voice of America have been blocked in Turkey, Germany media reported on 30 June. The official reason for the block is due to licensing issues.
Turkey claims that, under its new 2019 media law, that Turkish-language publications must apply for a licence from the Turkish Broadcasting Council to continue to operate in the country. Both DW and VOA had Turkish-language versions of their websites.
Turkey has previously faced criticism over its media censorship laws. Turkey has considerable control over social media and blocks and censors many online websites, especially those critical of President Recep Erdoğan.
In the run up to the 2023 presidential elections, Turkish authorities are considering introducing new “disinformation” laws, which would jail journalists for information that the government disagrees with.
Reports without borders rates Turkey poorly in terms of press liberties and freedom of expression. In its 2022 press freedom index, Turkey ranks 149th out of 180 for press freedoms.
#Turkey: A judge has banned the Turkish-language websites of @DeutscheWelle and @VOANews for "unlicensed broadcasting", according to a decision by the media regulator. RWB calls on the authorities to end this non-transparent procedure which intimidates foreign #online media. pic.twitter.com/Xr0vf0bpoO
— RSF (@RSF_inter) July 1, 2022
DW and VOA previously refused to apply for Turkish media licences, which they view as an attempt to silence independent media.
DW Genel Müdürü'nden erişim engeli açıklaması:
"Türkiye'de lisanslı medya, RTÜK'ün uygunsuz bulduğu içeriği silmekle yükümlü. Bu durum bağımsız bir medya kuruluşu için kabul edilemez. DW, uygulanan erişim engeline karşı yasal yollara başvuracak"https://t.co/S5ctmsjq73 pic.twitter.com/B70IXZAfPt
— DW Türkçe (@dw_turkce) July 1, 2022
Translation: Licensed media in Turkey is obliged to delete content that RTÜK deems inappropriate. This situation is unacceptable for an independent media organization. DW will take legal action against the imposed access ban
“After the local media, which are already subject to strict regulation in Turkey, this time it is the international media that are targeted. We will not give into pressure,” DW’s managing director Peter Limbourg said.
DW is now planning to take legal action against the Turkish government in order to resume its broadcasts.
Between 2016 and 2020, Turkish authorities have banned over 349,000 websites, according to the Freedom of Expression Association.