Turkey urged to lift YouTube ban

A visiting delegation of European parliamentarians has asked Turkey to lift its restrictions on accessing YouTube and other web-based sites in the country.

“Banning YouTube, or Google's blogging site, the websites of a teachers' trade union, Richard Dawkins and even a Turkish dictionary stands alongside more than 40 cases against writers and journalists even since the reform of the so-called anti-Turkishness article of the penal code," said Richard Howitt, the vice president of the European Parliament's Human Rights Sub-Committee, as reported by Turkish daily newspaper Hurriyet.

The British Euro MP called for the ban to be overturned at a meeting with Turkish Justice Minister Mehmet Ali Sahin in Turkey’s capital Ankara on Nov 27. Howitt criticized the ban, saying that around 1,000 websites are blocked in Turkey and this places the country alongside some of the world's worst nations for cyber censorship.

As a modern country looking forward to European Union membership, Turkey should be embracing new communications rather than putting itself in the same bracket as some of the world's pariah states, Howitt added in the statement. "Whilst honoring Turkey's founder, Ataturk, blocking more than 50 websites for insulting his memory cannot be equated with banning sites for child pornography or pedophilia," he said.

Meanwhile, Turkey’s Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTÜK) is preparing a new set of rules aiming to revamp and clarify local broadcasting. According to the draft legislation, broadcasts will be made in Turkish in principle, but it will be possible to broadcast programmes in other languages for the purposes of education, music or news broadcasting.

Other changes proposed include caps on the use of secretly filmed images, a prohibition on broadcasts that incite violence, terror, ethnic discrimination, and any content that promotes hatred, racial, class, linguistic, factional, religious or regional differences. The new bill will also rule out the promotion of alcohol, tobacco products or drugs, and limit advertising time to a maximum of 15% of daily broadcasting time.