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Commentary

A12 Today’s Zaman

Glued to the screen


Could you stomach Demonized as the “devil’s instrument” by stations will also reveal seemingly dozens
belly-dancing at those right-wing religious reactionaries of “discussion” programs where invited “ex-
10 o’clock in the of the wackier persuasion, the televi- perts” pontificate on whatever the subject
morning? How sion continues to cause controversy in of the day may be. I have no objection to
certain circles. A conservative estimate such emissions, but where are the hard-
about listening to
suggests that most of us watch between hitting interviews with top people that you
the outpourings two to three hours of TV per day. This see in BBC’s “Hardtalk” for example, or
of middle-aged figure increases within certain sectors, cut-and-thrust debates such as that pre-
housewives tearfully such as the aged, the unemployed and sided over by Tim Sebastian in “The Doha
recounting some housewives. The reason for this sector’s Debate,” or even Jeremy Paxman’s often vit-
injustice or other they higher than average exposure to cathode riolic pursuit of the truth on “Newsnight”?
feel they have been subjected rays centers on those infamous “daytime” Not here you don’t. Tame talk show hosts
to, or watching Jerry Springer- TV schedules. Have you ever watched allow just about any talking head to drone
style ranting and raving daytime TV either in your home country on, pushing their point of view with no rig-
between studio audiences and or here? Wherever you view this block orous challenges to what is being proposed
selected “ordinary” people on of programming, the content and intel- or preached. And they go on for hours.
lectual level remain universally dire, with If Turkey’s democracy is still in ado-
the set? It’s enough to make you
a preponderance of “lifestyle” programs lescence and is not yet mature in many
choke on your mid- involving anything from gardening com- people’s eyes, then Turkish television is
morning coffee and petitions or interior design makeovers, to positively infantile -- barely walking, still
cookies a multitude of cooking challenges which having some teething problems and chal-
Ashley Perks have made the likes of Jamie Oliver, Rick lenges to its communication skills. It might
Istanbul Stein or Anthony Worrall Thomson multi- be worth just dialing back a little to chart
millionaires in Britain. the inception and development of televi-
Here in Turkey, such programs are also sion broadcasting in Turkey.
aired, of course, but there are also a num- According to the “Historical Background
ber of broadcasts that, to an expat anyway, to Television and Radio in Turkey” page on
are somewhat bemusing. Zapping across the www.byegm.gov.tr Web site: “Follow-
the range from state-run Turkish Radio ing the adoption of the 1961 Constitution,
and Television Corporation (TRT) stations changes, renewal and developments were
to across the gamut of private channels witnessed in Turkey in all fields. Radio
on terrestrial, cable or satellite providers and television broadcasting, one of the
exposes one to some remarkable offerings. most effective means of communications,
Much is entertaining, some shows was assigned to the TRT according to the
are dramatic, while others just provision stipulated in Law No. 121 of
seem downright inappropriate. the Constitution which states: ‘The man-
Could you stomach belly-dancing agement of radio stations and television
at 10 o’clock in the morning? net-works are regulated under the law as
How about listening to the au-to-no-mo-us public corporate bodies.’
outpourings of middle- The Turkish Radio Television Law No. 359
aged housewives tearfully was approved on Dec. 24, 1963, and went
recounting some injustice into effect on May 1, 1964.”
or other they feel they The first television t-rans-missions in
have been subjected to, or Turkey be-gan on Jan. 31, 1968, and were
watching Jerry Springer- transmitted from a studio in An-ka-ra.
style ranting and raving Television programs were broadcast by
between studio audiences means of a 5-kW transmitter in Ded-
and selected “ordinary” edoruk, Ankara, and were followed by
people on the set? It’s trans-mis-si-ons from Ýzmir which began
enough to make you choke on Aug. 26, 1968. In September 1970,
on your mid-morning cof- programs began to be broadcast in Ýzmir.
fee and cookies! With the publication of the “TRT Estab-
Trawling through the TV lishment and Duties Regulations” on Sep-t.
Illustration by Cem Kiziltug