The IPI global network of journalists, editors, and publishers strongly condemns the decision of the Turkish authorities to not renew the operating license of German broadcaster Deutsche Welle’s (DW) Turkish service. This decision will effectively shut down the Turkish branch of DW in a worrying indication of the shrinking space for free and independent media in Turkey. IPI calls on the Turkish government to immediately reverse its decision and to respect the right of media outlets to operate freely and independently, especially in the run-up to Turkey’s presidential and parliamentary elections on May 14.
On March 17, Halk TV journalist İsmail Saymaz reported that the Turkish government, in consultation with the Presidential Communication Directorate, did not extend the operating license of DW’s Turkish service. The Turkish authorities cited a mistake in DW’s paperwork as the grounds for non-renewal.
Earlier in June 2022, a Turkish court had blocked the website of DW after the international broadcaster refused to file a license application as demanded by the Turkish government’s telecommunications regulator, RTÜK, citing a risk of censorship. This decision ironically increased the readership of DW’s Turkish service and the German broadcaster was able to continue operating in the country.
However, with the latest decision of the Turkish government to not renew the operating license of DW Turkish service, the German broadcaster will no longer be able to operate in Turkey as a legal entity. As a result, the reporters and editors of DW Turkish service will only be able to continue their work for the broadcaster as freelancers, deprived of a work contract and social security benefits.
“We view the Turkish government’s decision to not renew the operating license of DW Turkish service as yet another attempt to suppress critical journalism, especially as the country approaches the upcoming elections”, IPI Deputy Director Scott Griffen said. “IPI calls on the Turkish government to immediately reverse its decision and to respect the right of media outlets to operate freely and independently.”