On Monday, February 21, Turkish media regulator RTUK issued an official notice that VOA’s Turkish language website would be blocked within 72 hours if VOA did not begin the process of applying for an “Internet broadcast license”.
Many media organizations inside and outside Turkey have expressed serious concern that this licensing requirement is designed to allow censorship of unfavorable media coverage.
Licensing is the norm for radio and television broadcasting, as broadcast spectrum is a limited public resource and governments have a recognized responsibility to regulate spectrum to ensure that it is used in the interests of the public. General public. The Internet, on the other hand, is not a finite resource, and the only possible purpose of a licensing requirement for Internet distribution is to enable censorship.
VOA is an international public service broadcaster, VOA is legally required to provide “accurate, objective and complete news coverage” to audiences in all the countries it serves. Accordingly, VOA’s Charter prevents VOA from agreeing to or permitting its coverage to be censored in any way. Our editorial decisions must be governed at all times by the highest professional standards of journalism. VOA therefore could not comply with a regulator’s directives to censor or remove content; Nor could VOA voluntarily agree to submit to such censorship.
“The threat to block the websites of Voice of America, Deutsche Welle or any other independent, public and professional news service in Turkey is disturbing,” said VOA Acting Director Yolanda López. “Voice of America’s independent journalism cannot be subject to this control or any government control that results in either censorship or even the perception of it.”
Accordingly, in the absence of an alternative, VOA believes that it will be obliged to file an objection with the Turkish regulators to the license application request.