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German state broadcaster Deutsche Welle and their American counterpart, Voice of America, refused to apply for online licenses in Turkey after the country’s media watchdog threatened to block the news organizations from operating if they failed to do so, Reuters reported.

The two broadcasters said Wednesday they will appeal a decision by Turkey’s RTUK media watchdog, saying that it was an attempt to censor and restrict foreign media in the country.

The announcement came a few days after the regulator – whose policy-making board is dominated by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s party – ordered DW, VOA and Euronews to apply for an online broadcasting license within 72 hours.

RTUK said that the deadline is on Thursday. If the news organizations fail to apply, the council will ask a court to ban access to their websites.

Following the order, the France-based Euronews said it would apply for a license, the Financial Times noted.

The decision highlights Erdogan’s increasing control over the media in Turkey: A majority of outlets in the country are close to the government and most coverage portrays the president in a positive light.

Many Turks have resorted to alternative outlets, including foreign media, for news.

Recently, RTUK fined a Turkish broadcaster for inciting hatred after journalist Sedef Kabas used a proverb that allegedly insulted the president – a crime in Turkey.

Kabas was detained and a court ordered her jailed ahead of a trial, the BBC reported.

Western allies and human rights organizations have accused the government of exploiting a failed military coup in 2016 as an excuse to silence opposition. The government has rejected this accusation, claiming the measures are necessary because of security risks.

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