Recent Development 

The Radio and Television Supreme Council ("RTÜK") published the Regulation on the Presentation of Radio, Television and On-Demand Broadcasting on the Internet ("Regulation") in the Official Gazette on August 1, 2019. The Regulation provides detailed provisions regarding broadcast services, broadcasting transmission, the broadcasting license and transmission authorization, as well as the supervision of broadcasting on the internet.

What's New?

Broadcast License and Media Service Providers

As per the Regulation, media service providers wishing to provide radio, television or on-demand broadcast services exclusively on the internet must obtain a broadcast license. Media service providers must obtain a broadcast license from RTÜK for each broadcasting medium, i.e. radio, television or on-demand. The Regulation extends RTÜK's administrative powers regarding content broadcasted on the internet to all transmission platforms the media service provider is using to broadcast.

RTÜK will grant broadcast licenses to joint stock companies established under the laws of Turkey for providing radio, television or on-demand broadcast services exclusively on the internet. Individual communication services, platforms that are not dedicated for transmitting radio, television and on-demand broadcast services on the internet and persons who only host third party radio, television and on-demand broadcast services are not within the scope of the Regulation.

Media service providers are obliged to remove all content which found to be violating the relevant laws by RTÜK; submit the necessary information and documents requested by RTÜK according to the Regulation; and enable access to audio and visual documents for RTÜK to monitor and evaluate the broadcasting content.

Media Service Providers with Broadcast License for Other Platforms

Media service providers holding temporary broadcasting right and/or broadcast licenses for terrestrial, satellite or other broadcasting platforms may use broadcast through internet for the term of their license, provided that they inform and register the URL address and/or platform operators broadcasting their content with RTÜK. Pursuant to the Provisional Article of the Regulation, such service providers must submit their request petition, fill out and sign the license application forms for broadcasting on the internet.

These media service providers must broadcast their content on all of their platforms simultaneously. In case a media service provider broadcasts its content through its archives or storage, these media service providers must obtain broadcast licenses for on-demand viewing on the internet.

Platform Operators and Broadcast Transmission Authorization

Platform operators wishing to transmit radio, television and on-demand broadcasting services over the internet must obtain a broadcast transmission authorization from RTÜK. RTÜK will grant a transmission authorization to joint stock companies or limited liability companies established under the laws of Turkey. RTÜK will not require the platform operator to be authorized by the Information Technologies and Communication Agency ("ITCA").

The Regulation applies to foreign entities that are (i) media service providers or internet broadcasting platform operators who broadcast in violation of the international agreements which Turkey is a party to and of the Broadcasting Law No. 6112; (ii) broadcasting organizations that broadcast internet content in Turkish aimed at audiences in Turkey; and (iii) broadcasting organizations that do not broadcast in Turkish but include commercial communications aimed at persons located in Turkey. These entities must obtain broadcast licenses to broadcast their content or hold a transmission authorization to transmit broadcasting services.

Platform operators must report to RTÜK and not transmit the broadcasts of media service providers who do not have broadcasting licenses or whose broadcasting license were expired or revoked; enable access to audio and visual documents for RTÜK to monitor and evaluate the broadcasting content; and behave impartially and fair towards all media service providers.

Sanctions for Lack of Broadcast License and Broadcast Transmission Authorization

As of September 1, 2019, if RTÜK determines that a media service provider or internet broadcasting platform operator provides services without a license or authorization, it notifies such entity to obtain the relevant license or authorization. Accordingly, if the relevant service provider or operator fails to apply for an application and pay in advance the broadcast license fee corresponding to three months, RTÜK may request from a criminal judgeship of peace to decide for the removal of content and/or blocking of access to the content and denunciate the real service providers and board members and general manager of the legal entity service providers.

Pursuant to the Provisional Article of the Regulation, media service providers broadcasting content without temporary broadcasting rights and/or broadcast licenses, and platform operators transmitting broadcasting services must apply for licenses or authorization within a month from the effective date of this Regulation, i.e. August 1, 2019. In case these service providers or operators fail to make their application, RTÜK may request the removal of content and/or blocking of access from a criminal judgeship of peace.

In principle, a criminal judgeship of peace’s access blocking decisions cover the section or part (in the form of URL and similar methods) relevant to the violation. However, if it is technically not possible to block access to the violating content (such as websites using https protocol) or the violation cannot be prevented by blocking access to such content, the criminal judgeship of peace may block access to the entire website.

The decision will be notified to the ITCA and ITCA will notify the access providers as well as relevant content and hosting providers of the decision. The Law No. 5651’s administrative fines will be imposed on the parties failing to fulfill the decision.

Conclusion

As the Regulation takes effect, the activities of media service providers broadcasting over the internet within the scope of the Regulation and platform operators transmitting broadcasting services in Turkey or abroad will be subject to RTÜK's supervision. In this respect, media service providers and platform operators must evaluate whether they are within the scope of the Regulation by carefully reviewing the requirements under the Regulation and take the necessary actions accordingly.