Turkey: Turkish Media Law: The Rise Of Television Broadcasting In Turkey

Last Updated: 13 March 2009
Article by Guner Law Office


This article gives a synopsis of broadcasting in Turkey from a legal perspective. It initially discusses alternative broadcast mediums in Turkey, followed by an explanation of how to set up a broadcasting company, and finally examines broadcasting content requirements and the consequences of violating them.

Legal Framework

Radio and television broadcasts remained a State monopoly in Turkey until 1994, when the a central piece of legislation governing private radio and television broadcasts in Turkey was passed; "The Law on the Establishment of Radio and Television Companies and Their Broadcasts"1 (the Law). This law removed the State monopoly and lead to a boom in privately owned radio and television companies. The Law mainly dealt with the establishment and the operation of private radio and television companies and also occasioned the creation of the "Radio and Television High Board"2 (RTUK) to supervise these companies. Although the Law has been amended various times, it still remains in force.

A number of secondary regulations governing various broadcast-related topics have been passed under the Law, relating to the licences and permits required in order to run different types of broadcast companies, including:

  • the Satellite Regulation3;
  • the Cable Regulation4; and
  • the Allocation of Frequency Regulation5,

as well as a host of other regulations on broadcasting law subjects varying from content requirements (the Content Regulation6), to the regulation of Close Circuit TV (the CCTV Regulation7).

The "Administrative and Financial Conditions Regulation"8 sets out the minimum pre-conditions required of radio and television broadcasting companies, regardless of the broadcasting medium, in order to be established. This regulation is fundamental to the establishment or the share transfer of any broadcasting company in Turkey.

Turkey also ratified the European Convention on Transfrontier Television in 1993 along with its additional protocol that entered into force on 1 March 2002, aiming to facilitate cross-border transmission and retransmission of television programme services. Broadcasting companies must comply with this convention.

How do you broadcast in Turkey?

Establishing a Turkish broadcaster

According to the Law, only those companies licensed by RTUK are entitled to engage in radio and television activities in Turkey, which effectively means broadcasting or playing content from Turkey. RTUK is authorised to grant broadcasting licences and permits for national, regional or local terrestrial broadcasting, satellite broadcasting and cable broadcasting. RTUK has not granted terrestrial broadcasting licenses and permits since the tender for the allocation of channels was cancelled. As the companies that broadcast in the terrestrial medium currently conduct these broadcasts on a de facto basis, in practice RTUK only grants satellite and cable broadcasting licenses and permits. There are various pre-conditions for obtaining these licenses/permits, which are explained in section 3 below.

Broadcast agreements with Turkish satellite and cable platform operators

In order to avoid the requirement to establish a Turkish broadcasting company and obtaining licences and permits from RTUK, foreign broadcasting companies can broadcast content into Turkey by entering into agreements with Turkish satellite and/or cable platform operators. Foreign broadcasting companies are not required to obtain a licence or permit from RTUK before entering into an agreement with platform operators for the use of their cable-satellite network. This practice is also considered to be in line with the European Convention on Transfrontier Television Broadcasting and has been accepted by the newly promulgated Cable regulation.

It should, however, be emphasised that broadcasting companies may only transmit their broadcasts into Turkey via cable or satellite networks. The Law provides that terrestrial frequencies, channels and cable capacity may not be allocated to radio and television companies that broadcast from abroad.

Setting up a broadcasting company

The following criteria must be met in order to obtain these licenses from RTUK.

Restrictions applicable to all broadcasting companies

1. Must be a joint stock company (a Company)

Only companies are able to hold broadcasting licenses or permits, not individuals. Among the different types of companies accepted under Turkish law (e.g. limited liability company (Limited Sirket), collective companies (Kollektif Sirket) etc.) only joint stock companies (Anonim Sirket; a company that has a minimum of 5 shareholders and a high minimum capital requirement compared to other companies) established for special purposes (i.e. radio & television broadcasting, communications, education, culture and art) are entitled to hold broadcasting licenses and permits.

2. Maximum one television and one radio station per Company

3. A broadcasting Company may only operate one television channel and one radio station.

Restrictions on permitted activities and Company shareholders

The Law also sets restrictions on the activities of the companies that may obtain broadcasting permits and as to who may be shareholders of such companies. Accordingly, political parties, associations, unions, professional associations, co-operatives, foundations, local administrations or companies, partnerships or associations established or participated by these and companies that conduct production, investment, import, export, marketing and financial affairs etc. activities may neither establish nor be shareholders in broadcasting companies.

4. The Company must have registered shares

The shares of radio and television companies must be registered shares (i.e. have the owner's name written on them). Privileged shares (Imtiyazli Hisse Senedi) and usufruct (Intifa Senetleri) are not permitted. Where "privileged shares" are those shares that grant superior rights to their holders compared to other shares, "usufruct shares" grant a right to financial returns from the company but do not, in principle, give management rights. These provisions are aimed at preventing hidden ownership of radio and television companies and to ensure RTUK's ability to supervise broadcasting companies. Broadcasting companies are subjected to close supervision and restrictions due to the fact that they are in a position to influence public opinion.

Foreign ownership restrictions

1. The situation under the Law

The Law sets further ownership restrictions which are applicable only to foreign entities and to foreign persons. In this respect, foreign entities and/or foreign legal persons can:

  • hold a maximum 25% of the shares of a company; and
  • are only able to own shares in one such company.

Foreign ownership restrictions are established with the intention of limiting foreigners' influence and control over Turkish broadcasting companies.

2. Proposed changes to foreign ownership rules under the Law

RTUK is currently considering a draft law which will, if passed, relax many of the Law's provisions, such as the 25% limit on foreign ownership.

Broadcasting Content Requirements

Sources of the law

Broadcasting quotas and content requirements are mainly set out in:

  • the Law;
  • the Content Regulation; and
  • the European Convention on Transfrontier Television Broadcasting.

Under Article 29 of the Content Regulation, broadcasting companies must, in principle, allocate programming in the following ways:

  • 5% to educational programming;
  • 5% to cultural programming; and
  • 5% to Turkish folk and classical music programs.

The European Convention on Transfrontier Television also provides that a majority of a broadcasting company's transmission time should be allocated to European works, excluding time allocated to news, sports events, games, advertising, teletext services and tele-shopping.

Some of the Content requirements

1. Public service

It is important that radio and television broadcasts are conducted in a spirit of public service. Consequently, broadcasting should not be exercised in a manner that serves the unfair interests of the broadcasting company or its shareholders etc. and should not lead to unfair competition. Furthermore, broadcasts should be compliant with, among other things, national security and general moral values.

2. Turkish language

Broadcasts should, in principle, be in the spoken form of the Turkish language and should be made without contravening its characteristics or rules. Subtitles for special purposes such as stock exchange data, weather forecasts, breaking news events, translation from a foreign language or branding and advertising may only be used if they comply with certain criteria (e.g. if they do not reduce the quality of the program).

3. Advertising

Advertisement broadcasts should be announced clearly. Advertisements should not be deceptive, misleading or lead to unfair competition. Advertisements aimed at children should be compliant with additional principles, e.g. they must not make statements or visual presentations that may mislead children regarding the actual dimensions, value, features etc. of an advertised product.

4. Impartiality and clarity

Broadcasts should respect the standards of impartiality, conformity and reliability in news programmes and should not prevent the free formation of opinions. Facts and interpretations should be clearly distinguished within news programs and interpretations should not misrepresent facts. Where news stories have been provided by agencies or another media source, this should be indicated.

5. Public competitions

Broadcasts should not include contests or competitions encouraging viewer participation via telephone and no prizes should be awarded to listeners or viewers. Lotteries are forbidden and telephone questionnaires / opinion polls should be done in conjunction with a notary from the preparatory stage to the announcement of the results.

Consequences of Violation

If a broadcasting company violates the restrictions above it may be subject to criminal sanctions, penalties imposed by RTUK, or both.

If a broadcasting company breaches its responsibilities or violates the conditions of its licence or content requirements, RTUK may initially warn the broadcasting company and request it to apologise to the public through the same broadcast medium.

If the broadcasting company does not comply with this request, or repeats a similar violation, broadcasting of the program may be suspended. A program can be suspended for anything from one to 12 times. When a program is suspended, a program prepared by RTUK on education, culture, traffic, women, children's rights, the physical and moral development of youth, the fight against drugs, appropriate use of the Turkish language or environmental education is broadcast in its place.

If the violation is repeated administrative penalties will be imposed on the broadcasting company. The amount of the penalty will depend on the type of broadcasting license held by the broadcasting company. If the violation is repeated once within a one year period starting from the date of the first violation the administrative penalty will be increased by 50 per cent. However, if a violation is repeated twice again within that one year period, the broadcaster's licence will be suspended for up to one year, with the length of suspension dependant on the gravity of the violation.

In the event that a broadcasting company violates some of the most vital broadcasting principles (e.g. the territorial and national integrity of the State) the company's broadcast rights will be suspended for one month without warning. In the event of the violation being repeated again, the broadcast will be suspended for an indefinite period and its broadcasting license will be cancelled.


Turkey has a population of 71,158,647 (July 2007 est.), a GDP of $378.4 billion (2006) and an annual GDP growth rate of 7.4% (2005). The audiovisual media sector for this massive market is rapidly developing, fuelled by Turkey's potential inclusion in the EU.

The legislative authority and RTUK are playing their part by updating the legislation and regulations to correspond with their European counter-parts, with new satellite and cable broadcasting regulations adopted in 2007. This atmosphere has led many multinational broadcasting companies to enter the Turkish market over the past few years. New broadcasting technology is also being closely monitored in Turkey and it is anticipated that significant steps will be taken towards introducing IPTV and Digital Terrestrial Television in the coming years. From a legislative side, an amendment to the Law is also currently being discussed which aims to reduce the number of restrictions on foreign ownership.

Taking these improvements into account, it is likely that the Turkish audiovisual media market will continue to develop at a fast pace and will flourish in the coming years.


1. Radyo ve Televizyonların Kurulus ve Yayinlari Hakkinda Kanun.

2. Radyo ve Televizyon Ust Kurulu.

3. The "Regulation on the Licenses and Permits For Satellite Broadcasts" (Uydu Yayin Lisans ve Izin Yonetmeligi).

4. The "Regulation on the Licenses and Permits For Cable Broadcasts" (Kablolu Yayin Lisans ve Izin Yonetmeligi).

5. The "Regulation on the Conditions for the Allocation of Channel or Frequency for Radio and Television Companies and Their Tender Procedures and Broadcasting License and Permit" (Radyo ve Televizyon Kuruluslari Kanal veya Frekans Tahsisi Sartlari ve Bunlara İliskin İhale Usulleri ile Yayin Lisansi ve Izni Yonetmeligi).

6. The "Regulation on the Principles and Procedures for Radio and Television Broadcasts"; Radyo ve Televizyon Yayinlarinin Esas ve Usulleri Hakkinda Yonetmelik).

7. The "Regulation on the use of Close Circuit Television"; (Kapali Devre Radyo ve Televizyon Yayinlari Yonetmeligi).

8. Özel Radyo ve Televizyon Kuruluşları Idari ve Mali Sartlar Yonetmeligi.

Guner Law Office was established in 1996 and has since grown into one of the major corporate, M&A, banking, litigation, energy and TMT practices in Turkey. Guner Law Office is headed by Ece Guner and works with international law firm Denton Wilde Sapte.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Some comments from our readers…
“The articles are extremely timely and highly applicable”
“I often find critical information not available elsewhere”
“As in-house counsel, Mondaq’s service is of great value”

Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:
  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.
  • Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.
    If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here
    If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq you may opt out by clicking here

    Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement

    Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

    Use of www.mondaq.com

    You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about Mondaq.com’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


    Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

    The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


    Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

    • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
    • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
    • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

    Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

    Information Collection and Use

    We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

    We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to unsubscribe@mondaq.com with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

    Mondaq News Alerts

    In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


    A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

    Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

    Log Files

    We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


    This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

    Surveys & Contests

    From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


    If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


    From time to time Mondaq may send you emails promoting Mondaq services including new services. You may opt out of receiving such emails by clicking below.

    *** If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of services offered by Mondaq you may opt out by clicking here .


    This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to webmaster@mondaq.com.

    Correcting/Updating Personal Information

    If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to EditorialAdvisor@mondaq.com.

    Notification of Changes

    If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

    How to contact Mondaq

    You can contact us with comments or queries at enquiries@mondaq.com.

    If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at problems@mondaq.com and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.

    By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions