Turkish watchdog should not oversee internet - columnist

A new draft law which will force all Turkish internet broadcasting platforms to obtain a license and come under the remit of the broadcasting watchdog RTÜK would be a disaster if passed, columnist Özgür Mumcu wrote.

“When the spirit of those who come out against bans and limitations has been broken this much, the draft law that is expected to widen RTÜK’s area of duty from radio and television to include the internet shows that the already extremely limited space for freedom is about to be entirely removed,” he said.

“And this is at a time where RTÜK has become a place to give fatwas, raining million-lira fines on channels on the basis of the words 'Allah the father' by an administrative decision taken on a religious basis.”

RTÜK was in a position to fine channels enormous amounts of money for merely offending societal values with no legal recourse, Mumcu said.

As a consequence, many Turkish television producers now opted to air their creations in the digital world – which will likely soon come under RTÜK’s mandate.

“After all, if the television series sector is consigned to TV channels, you are forced to film 160–180 minutes of the series every week. You are fined if characters kiss, you are fined if they don’t get married, you are fined if they drink alcohol. Let alone if they make any reference to politics,” he said.

“There is one iron rule of authoritarian regimes,” Mumcu said. “They keep increasing the repression.”