Turkey's media watchdog head says critics of new regulation are ill-minded

The head of Turkey’s media watchdog on Sunday said objections over a new regulation extending its powers to cover internet broadcasting are ill-intentioned, T24 reported.

The Turkish state agency for monitoring, regulating, and sanctioning radio and television broadcasts (RTÜK) could use the new regulation to censor online streaming platforms such as YouTube and Netflix, rights activists and experts say. 

According to the new regulation that entered into force on Aug. 1, all broadcasters that want to provide radio, television, and other types of broadcasting services on the internet, including on-demand services in Turkey, will have to first obtain a licence from RTÜK.

"The majority of the intense criticism stems from the lack of knowledge and the habit of ill-intentioned opposition," T24 quoted Ebubekir Şahin as saying.

With the new powers, RTÜK will be able to file a legal complaint to demand to block access to broadcasters that do not have a licence or authorisation, or whose licence or authorisation have been cancelled. 

But Şahin said RTÜK can not be painted as a censor institution, adding that the people who say internet will be censored with the new regulation are intentionally distorting the reality.

Under the leadership of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), RTÜK has taken a strict line with television stations, slapping channels with large fines for what it says is “offending societal values”. As a result, many Turkish television producers have opted to share their work online, but that too has now come under the watchdog’s mandate.