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Turkey: Radio and Television
Country Study > Chapter 4 > Government and Politics > Mass Media > Radio and Television

RADIO AND TELEVISION


The government of Turkey began radio broadcasting in 1927. Atatürk and his colleagues perceived radio as a means to promote modernization and nationalism and thus created a Bureau of the Press Directorate to oversee programming and ensure that it served national goals. In 1964 the government established the Turkish Radio and Television Corporation (Türkiye Radyo Televizyon Kurumu -- TRT) to expand radio facilities and develop public television. Subsequently, the transmission power of radio stations greatly increased, as did the number of licensed receivers. (The government required purchase of a license for ownership of radios, and later of televisions.) By 1994 almost the entire nation had radio coverage, with thirty-six transmitters beaming a total power of 5,500 kilowatts to an estimated 10 million receivers. TRT also broadcasts programs abroad in Turkish and in several foreign languages, including Arabic, Bulgarian, Greek, and Persian.

Television developed more slowly than radio, mainly because the government considered it a luxury. Television broadcasting began through a technical-assistance agreement between Turkey and the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany). With the aid of the equipment and technical personnel provided under this agreement, TRT inaugurated the country's first public television station in Ankara in 1968. Gradually new stations were opened in Istanbul, Izmir, and other cities. Investment in television facilities accelerated after 1972, and during the following decade television replaced radio as the country's most important mass medium. By 1994 the estimated number of television sets -- 10 million -- equaled the number of radio receivers.

TRT had a constitutionally mandated monopoly on radio and television broadcasting prior to 1993. It financed its operations through limited allocations it received from the government's general budget and income derived from radio and television license fees. TRT news presentations and documentaries tended to avoid controversy; television viewers often criticized the programs as dull. Dissatisfaction with public television prompted proposals beginning in the late 1980s to amend the constitution to permit private, commercial broadcasting. Opposition to private broadcasting came from the military and other groups that feared loss of government control over programming. It was not until 1993 that the National Assembly approved legislation to authorize private radio and television in tandem with public broadcasting. Even before their legalization, however, private stations had begun to broadcast programs, many of which disturbed officials in the national security bureaucracy. For example, in the summer of 1993 the State Security Court opened an investigation into a public affairs program of a private Istanbul channel, charging that the program had spread separatist propaganda by including Kurdish guests.

Data as of January 1995




Last Updated: January 1995


Editor's Note: Country Studies included here were published between 1988 and 1998. The Country study for Turkey was first published in 1995. Where available, the data has been updated through 2008. The date at the bottom of each section will indicate the time period of the data. Information on some countries may no longer be up to date. See the "Research Completed" date at the beginning of each study on the Title Page or the "Data as of" date at the end of each section of text. This information is included due to its comprehensiveness and for historical purposes.

Note that current information from the CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State Background Notes, Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Country Briefs, the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Country Profiles, and the World Bank can be found on Factba.se.

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