Evolution of the internet changed the viewer informing and entertainment landscape. On one hand, broadcasters using traditional media outlets expanded their broadcasting mediums and started to utilize online streaming. On the other hand, new players entered into the broadcasting market via emergence of online content providing, streaming platforms. The broadcasting vision changed immensely with introduction of disruptive business models and innovative technologies and focus started to be placed on personalized technology, on-demand viewer experience, individuated content distribution, multiple screens viewing, audience interaction...

We previously hinted that the Turkish Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTUK) was looking into regulating the OTT streaming media services. We noted that RTUK released a draft Regulation in the last quarter of 2018 where it set out matters such as main principles and procedures for broadcasting via the Internet, licensing conditions for such services and authorization and supervision of RTUK over such services. Yesterday, the finalized regulation was issued in the Official Gazette.

The Regulation, which got enacted by its publication on the Official Gazette, is very similar to the draft Regulation. The Regulation includes only slight amendments. Such amendments concern scope of application, broadcasting conditions and calculation of license fees. Moreover, the Regulation rightfully adds an extra obligation for platform operators in relation to disclosure of certain company and website related information in order to ensure effective monitoring of services.

Who are main stakeholders and how are they affected by the Regulation?

The Regulation is applicable to platform operators and media service providers, which broadcast radio, television and on-demand contents over the internet.

The Regulation seeks to clarify further scope of its application by noting the following:

  • the Regulation is not applicable to individual communication services (and sticking to its previous analysis in the draft Regulation)
  • platforms whose main activity is not associated with the transmission of radio, television and on-demand broadcast services via the internet and real and legal persons who only host radio, television and on-demand broadcast services remain outside the definition of platform operators (instead of simply rendering such entities outside the scope of the Regulation as previously stipulated in the draft Regulation)

Accordingly, the Regulation does not take into consideration similar "commercial" use of platforms such as Youtube, Onedio, Facebook and Scorp since on the outset their main activities are not associated with services defined in the Regulation and/or they only serve to host such services. Accordingly, some may argue that the Regulation fails to step up the game and meet the dynamics of the current broadcasting market...

With the Regulation, RTUK seeks to strengthen its controlling mechanism over online world as the Regulation allows RTUK to monitor the content alongside licensing and authorization matters.

Moving forward: What should online media service providers and platform operators do now?

Online media service providers and platform operators have one month to take necessary steps via applying to RTUK for necessary authorizations and licenses. Upon application, such entities may continue their services until further notice from RTUK.

Following the grace period, should RTUK realize (ex officio or by way of a complaint) that online media service providers or platform operators are broadcasting content over the internet without the necessary licenses or authorizations, the entities are granted three months to make necessary applications. Such period may be extended for another three months if the relevant license and authorization fees are paid in advance. Non-compliance leads to certain administrative sanctions and punitive fines – including restrictions to broadcasting such as removal of broadcasted content and denial of access to broadcasting.

We are yet to see how developments will be rolling out. Stay tuned for more...

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