(Washington, D.C.) — The Turkish Democracy Project (TDP) expresses its solidarity with the international press against the Turkish regime’s flagrant attempt to undermine media freedom. TDP urges the Turkish Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTÜK) to reconsider its decision regarding Deutsche Welle, Voice of America and Euronews.
In Ankara’s latest attack on the press, the Turkish broadcasting authority – controlled by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and its allies – announced on February 9 that Deutsche Welle, Voice of America and Euronews had 72 hours to obtain an operating license or face a broadcasting ban. Such a license would impair these outlets’ editorial independence and give the Turkish watchdog the power to suspend them if it believes the content published goes against its “principles”.
The RTÜK’s decision comes as no surprise from a regime that has gradually taken control of the Turkish media and regularly violated the rights of the press. From questionable and controversial acquisitions of media groups to the persecution of independent journalists, Recep Erdogan has systematically eliminated media pluralism in Turkey. So much so that approximately 90% of mainstream media in Turkey is now owned by the State or tows the line of the government.
In the midst of a devastating economic crisis and a delicate political period ahead of general elections, this decision will further strengthen Erdogan’s authoritarian grip on free discourse in Turkey.
Commenting on the RTÜK’s decision, Madeleine Joelson, executive director of TDP said:
“Ankara has repeatedly demonstrated a complete disregard for the fundamental principle of freedom of the press.Yesterday’s announcement by RTUK means that should the international press be unable to maintain its independence in Turkey, it will further deteriorate the Turkish public’s access to independent media sources. These moves from the Turkish government have become routine, but it is imperative that the international community remain resistant to them.”