Subsequent to the recent amendments to the Law No. 6112 on the Establishment of Radio and Television Enterprises and Media Services (“Broadcasting Law“), the Radio and Television Supreme Council (“RTÜK“) and the Turkish Telecommunications Authority (“BTK“) have been working on the draft Regulation on the Presentation of Radio Television and On-Demand Publications on the Internet (“Regulation“). The draft Regulation, which significantly extends RTÜK’s power over internet content, was published on RTÜK’s website on September 27, 2018.
On March 21, 2018, the Turkish Parliament passed the Law on the Amendments to the Tax Laws and Certain Laws and Decrees, adding the Article 29/A to the Broadcasting Law, which requires service providers wishing to broadcast on the internet to obtain a license from RTÜK. Accordingly, failure to hold a valid license may result in the removal of the relevant broadcast content on the Internet and/or blocking of access to the relevant content.
The Regulation introduces significant rules concerning service providers and platform operators that provide radio, television and on-demand broadcasting services on the internet, requiring service providers to obtain broadcasting licenses from RTÜK.
In addition, broadcasting organizations that provide television and on-demand broadcasting services on their websites or mobile applications aimed at persons in Turkey should also obtain a broadcasting transmission authorization from RTÜK. Internet broadcasting licenses will be granted to joint-stock companies (anonim şirket), and internet broadcasting transmission authorizations will be granted to joint-stock or limited liability (limited şirket) companies which are established under Turkish law. Failure to hold a valid license may result in the removal of the relevant broadcast content on the internet and/or blocking of access to the relevant content. RTÜK decisions relating to the suspension of broadcasting or TV programs and the cancellation of licenses due to the broadcast content will be imposed on all the broadcasting transmission platforms of the relevant media service providers.
The provisions of the Regulation will also apply to the foreign service providers listed below:
- Media service providers or platform operators who provide broadcasting services on the internet in violation of international agreements and the Broadcasting Law,
- Broadcasting organizations that broadcast internet content in Turkish and aimed at persons in Turkey, and
- Broadcasting organizations that do not broadcast in Turkish but include commercial communications aimed at persons located in Turkey.
The Regulation also provides that upon RTÜK’s request, media service providers must submit all information and documents relating to the number of their subscribers; the company and shareholding structure; their programs; and the platform operators that transmit their broadcasts. The Draft Regulation on the Presentation of Radio Television and On-Demand Publications on the Internet is available here (in Turkish).
Once the Regulation takes effect, the activities of television channels and platforms that broadcast on the internet, either in Turkey or abroad, will be subject to RTÜK’s supervision. In particular, foreign service providers and platforms will be obliged to establish a legal entity in Turkey to provide broadcasting services on the internet under a broadcasting license or a broadcasting transmission authorization granted by the RTÜK. Therefore, service providers and platform operators who broadcast online must carefully review the new requirements under the new Regulation and take the necessary actions to obtain a broadcasting license or a broadcasting transmission authorization.
Having a legal entity established in Turkey to provide broadcasting services will also yield to the taxation of the relevant legal entity in Turkey. Therefore, financial obligations that may arise in connection with establishing a legal entity must be carefully taken into consideration.