Turkish singer performs on new TRT EI channel
Photo: AFP

Turkey uses TV to seduce Arab world

Country launches 24-hour state television channel broadcasting accessible to more than 300 million Arabic speakers

After using enhanced diplomacy and trade to bolster ties with Middle Eastern neighbors, Turkey now has a new weapon to seduce the Arab world: A state television channel in Arabic accessible to more than 300 million Arabic speakers.


Launched last week, TRT El Turkiye became the second 24-hour channel broadcasting in a language other than Turkish, following the introduction of a Kurdish-language channel last year.


According to state broadcaster TRT, the channel is the first one to address an essentially international audience, broadcasting to 22 countries via satellite.


For Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the head of secular Turkey's Islamist-rooted government, the channel has clear objectives.


"Turks and Arabs are like the fingers of a hand," he said in his inauguration speech on Sunday.


"We belong in the same history, the same culture and above all the same civilization... TRT El Turkiye was launched to become our common language, or common screen, our common passion."


In practice, this fledgling channel, which describes itself as family-oriented, could find it difficult to make a dent in the already saturated Arab television market -- a reality acknowledged by the channel's administrators.


"There are 750 satellite channels in Arabic; we are going to be 751st: We have to do something new both in terms of format and content," Sefer Turan, the coordinator for TRT El Turkiye, told AFP.


To make its name known, the channel can count on home-made television series which Arab audiences are very much fond of.


"But we want to go further and co-produce television programs with Arab countries. The story can start in Istanbul, then can continue in Damascus and finish in Cairo," said Turan.

'The 751st satellite channel in Arabic' (Photo: AFP)


Daily live broadcasts simultaneously from Istanbul, Cairo and Beyrouth will be another plus for the channel, according to Turan, who recruited most of his staff – about 50 people -- from the Arab world.


TRT El Turkiye's launch coincides with the Ankara government's drive in recent years to improve ties with Arab neighbors which has resulted in the lifting of visas with a number of countries, a raft of commercial agreements and mediation offers to resolve regional conflicts.


"Turkey now wants to be an actor in the Middle East. (TRT El Turkiye) is one element of this policy" of re-balancing Turkish diplomacy which for years followed an exclusively Western-oriented path, said Mete Cubukcu, an editor at the NTV news channel and an expert on the Arab world.


This drive, coupled with Erdogan's strong criticism of Israel in the Palestinian conflict, gives Turkey "a lot of prestige" in the Middle East, which could prove useful to the new channel, Cubukcu said.


But to find itself a place in the Arab market, TRT El Turkiye should be careful not to become a tool for propaganda, stressed the expert.


"There are already many international channels in Arabic. If this one wants to find its place, it has to offer objective information," he added.


פרסום ראשון: 04.13.10, 15:20
 new comment
This will delete your current comment