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Turkey Says Deutsche Welle, Others Must Obtain Licenses or Have Access Blocked


FILE - The logo of German international broadcaster Deutsche Welle is pictured in Berlin, Jan. 30, 2020.

Turkey's broadcasting watchdog has given three international news agencies 72 hours to obtain an operating license or else have access to their platforms blocked, a member of the agency said on Wednesday.

Ilhan Tasci, who also is an opposition lawmaker, criticized the move by the Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTUK) to request licenses from the Turkish language websites of German broadcaster Deutsche Welle, Voice of America and Euronews, saying it marked a further assault on media freedom in Turkey.

"A decision was taken with a majority of votes that 72 hours be granted to the websites of amerikaninsesi.com, dw.com/tr, and tr.euronews.com to get licenses," Tasci, one of nine members of the RTUK higher board, said in a tweet.

The RTUK board, which is dominated by the ruling AK Party, was not immediately available to comment on why it had requested the licenses.

Turkey has in recent years moved to increase media oversight by giving the RTUK sweeping oversight over all online content, which it also has the power to remove. About 90% of mainstream media in Turkey is now owned by the state or is close to the government.

Tasci said RTUK's real target was media freedom. "After the national media, it is the turn of international news sites to be supervised and muzzled. With RTUK's 'there are videos on the site, it must get a license' approach, there will be no unsupervised news outlets left," he said.

Western allies and rights groups have accused President Tayyip Erdogan's government of using a 2016 failed coup as a pretext to muzzle dissent. The government denies this, saying its measures are needed due to security threats facing Turkey.

During his nearly two decades in power, Erdogan has often criticized media content that is out of step with the conservative Islamic values espoused by his AK Party.

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