Turkey's parliament has for the first time introduced legal sanctions against persons posting false information on the Internet, and toughened up penalties for breaches of television and radio broadcasting laws, in a bill adopted Thursday, June 7.
But the government cut out from the original text a controversial clause requiring owners of all Internet websites to submit their pages to the authorities for scrutiny before publication. The clause was dropped after the proposal attracted a storm of criticism at home and abroad, parliamentary sources said.
The bill, which amended existing media regulations, stipulates that the dissemination of false information and slander on websites will be punishable by heavy fines of up to 100 billion liras (about $85,000).
The amendment will also prevent the authorities from taking television and radio stations off air for violating broadcasting norms, as is the current practice. Instead, Turkey's broadcasting watchdog, RTUK, will in the first instance warn the institutions to run an apology.
Failure to comply will result in the suspension of an offending program, its temporary replacement with educational and cultural program prepared by RTUK, and heavy fines of up to Tl 250 billion (about $213,000).
But RTUK will cancel the broadcasting licenses of institutions, which target Turkey's unity and disseminate "subversive and separatist propaganda".
Founded in 1994, RTUK has to date suspended hundreds of local and national television and radio stations, often coming under fire for being too harsh.
Since the launch of Turkey's first private television in 1990 after years of state monopoly, broadcasting organizations have mushroomed across the country, with 13 national and some 200 local television channels as well as about 2,500 radio stations. ― (AFP, Ankara)
© Agence France Presse 2001
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)