Turkish internet broadcasting law “not censorship”, claims regulator

A recently introduced Turkish law to regulate the broadcasting of content on the internet is a liberal measure intended to protect families, Turkey’s broadcasting regulator RTÜK claimed.

“This law, in spite of what others have said, is a liberal law, it is never a ‘censorship law’. It does not cover the entire internet,” RTÜK head İlhan Yerlikaya said.

“There is no inspection of YouTube, Twitter or Facebook at all. We will only inspect broadcasters which are felt not to be broadcasters due to broadcasting only over the internet, such as Netflix, Blu TV, and Puhu TV.”

The measure was necessary, he said, to protect children from bad role models.

“In the scripts they write swearing, and they put long beeps (over it) on television because they are worried about RTÜK, but in the internet environment they broadcast it as it is,” he said.

“Our families watch this swearing on their mobile telephones, and they emerge as very bad role models for our children still at a young age. Because some of those who do it (swear) are the heroes of those series. As a result, broadcasting is something that requires social responsibility; it is not something to be done at random.”

Turkish television studios have had success making and exporting relatively racy content to the Middle East, Africa, Central Asia and even Latin America, but Turkish consumers have been increasingly choosing to view their television output on internet subscription services, which up until the passing of this law did not have to comply with censorship.

Today’s tightened regulatory rules mean that even films considered harmless by most of Turkish society at the peak of the country’s domestic film-making industry in the 1960s and 1970s are now riddled with censorship – largely of tobacco and alcohol consumption – when they are now broadcast on television.

“Censorship is coming and the internet is finished – this isn’t happening,” Yerlikaya said. “Have radio and television finished? At the moment there are 1,700 radio and television stations in Turkey.”

“So to say that RTÜK is a censorious, anti-democratic institution is very wrong, and I think that those who say it have no knowledge of the sector.”