Turkey’s state media watchdog, the Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTÜK), fined two music stations last week over what it deemed explicit content in the lyrics of the song “Wild Thoughts” by American musician DJ Khaled and Barbadian singer Rihanna as well as “Sex, Love & Water” by Dutch DJ Armin van Buuren.
RTÜK has started to fine Turkish TV stations over the English-language lyrics of pop songs they broadcast, Hürriyet daily columnist Cengiz Semercioğlu reported on Thursday. “RTÜK issued a TL 17,065 fine to music stations NR1 and Dream TV due to the lyrics of ‘Wild Thoughts,’ and the same fine was imposed on Power TV over the lyrics of ‘Sex, Love and Water’,” Semercioğlu wrote.
The former is a song from DJ Khaled with the collaboration of Rihanna and Bryson Tiller, and the latter is from Dutch DJ Armin van Buuren and Conrad Sewell.
According to Semercioğlu, Turkish music stations have been cutting or censoring foreign music videos, including sexy dance scenes, for a long time now. However, this is the first time that RTÜK has decided to issue fines over the English lyrics. “To understand them, one has to know English very well,” Semercioğlu added.
Semercioğlu also said since RTÜK has started to issue fines over lyrics, TV and radio stations might not be able to find any songs to play and might even have to drop several movies from their lineup in order to avoid fines.
It is not uncommon for authorities in Turkey to censor or ban music on the grounds of “terrorist propaganda” usually when it comes to Kurdish songs. However, RTÜK, for the first time in its history, punished media for words most of the Turkish-speaking population does not understand.
This was not the first time Rihanna’s art landed a Turkish media outlet in trouble. In 2014, the government-controlled watchdog fined entertainment channel Show TV 1 percent of its monthly advertisement income for airing a clip of the song “Can’t Remember to Forget You” in which Rihanna is seen dancing with Shakira because its content was “promoting” homosexuality.
Last week, police arrested a Turkish rapper known as Ezhel for lyrics in his songs that “promoted drug use.” Prosecutors were asking for up to 10 years in prison for the artist, whose real name is Ömer Sercan İpekcioglu since the Prime Ministry was receiving complaints about his videos on YouTube, the state agency wrote.
Earlier this year, an opposition lawmaker revealed that the public-funded Radio and Television Corporation (TRT) had 208 songs, 142 of them in Turkish, and 66 in Kurdish by various singers blacklisted.