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Turkey blocks access to VOA Turkish content

Turkish media regulators blocked access to Voice of America and Deutsche Welle's Turkish services on Thursday because international public broadcasters did not apply for the licenses requested by the regulators. did.

In February, the Supreme Council of Radio and Television, known as RTUK, rushed to notify three international broadcasters, including Voice of America's Turkish Service, to obtain a broadcast license or block content. did. The order also included Deutsche Welle from Germany.

Republican People's Party RTUK board member and critic of license demand Ilhan Tasci said Thursday that access to Deutsche Welle's Turkish service, DW Turkce and VOA, was blocked on Twitter. Announced. By court decision.

"Access to DWTurkce and Voice of America, which did not apply for a license, was blocked by the Ankara Criminal Court at the request of the RTUK Board," Tasci said Thursday. "Freedom of the press and a high degree of democracy are here!" He added ironically.

The February licensing decision was based on the regulations that came into force in August 2019. At the time, regulations empowered RTUK to control all online content, and advocates of media freedom expressed concern about the possibility of censorship.

RTUK Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Ibrahim Uslu dismissed criticism of censorship, stating that the decision "has nothing to do with censorship, but is part of technical action."

Under regulation, RTUK requires a broadcast license from "media service providers" to maintain its online presence in radio, television and on-demand audiovisual media services. Is allowed.

Regulations allow RTUK to impose a fine, suspend broadcasting for three months, or cancel a broadcasting license if the licensee does not follow RTUK's principles.

This decision is the first to use RTUK's authority over news websites, said Can Guleryuzlu, President of the Association of Progressive Journalists.

VOA and Deutsche Welle said, "We reported on many issues that millions of people followed, and the domestic press could not bring them to the agenda." "The last of the judiciary. The decision prevented it. The judiciary turned to the Turkish government, not justice, "Guleryuzlu added. It's called censorship.

FILE - The logo of German international broadcaster Deutsche Welle is pictured in Berlin, Jan. 30, 2020.
File-The logo of the German international broadcaster Deutsche Welle is Berlin It is depicted in, January 30, 2020.

VOA The court's decision to block access to Turkish came shortly after the meeting between President Joe Biden and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. I did. Bystander of the NATO summit in Madrid.

The US Global Media Arts Festival, which oversees VOA, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

A February VOA spokesman confirmed the network. I was aware of RTUK's request.

"VOA believes that the government's efforts to silence the press are a violation of the press freedom, which is the core value of all democratic societies," said a spokesperson. Bridget Selchuck said.

"If the Turkish Government officially blocks our website, VOA will make every effort to make it accessible to Turkish-speaking viewers for free on the Internet using all available methods. "Opens," she added.

DW Secretary Peter Limbourg said in February that the broadcaster would appeal the decision.

In a statementissued by DW, he said the request "blocked the entire service based on individual material reports to the Turkish authorities unless these reports were deleted. Give you the option to do it. "

Turkey has a poor record of freedom of the press and is ranked 149th out of 180 countries in thePress Freedom Index.

Reporters Without Borders generally discriminate against the Turkish media, and RTUK "helps to financially undermine important television channels by imposing heavy fines." It states.

VOA's Turkish services Ezel Sahinkaya and Begum Ersoz contributed to this report. Some information came from Reuters.