Turkey: new Christian TV channel makes the news
Turkey's broadcast and print media has given huge coverage to the launch of SAT-7 TÜRK, the latest SAT-7 satellite TV channel …
The recent launch of SAT-7 TÜRK, the latest addition to SAT-7's now five-strong stable of Christian satellite TV stations broadcasting across the Middle East, has achieved wall-to-wall coverage across the Turkish broadcast and print media.
The SAT-7 TÜRK website also received well over extra 100,000 visits after a prime-time interview on CNN Türk (12 May).
CNN Türk was the first to invite SAT-7 TÜRK Executive Director Melih Ekener onto its news show and the story was followed up by TV news channel KANAL D and three national newspapers.
CNN asked Mr Ekener why SAT-7 was established in Turkey and what programmes it broadcast. He answered that SAT-7 was already a major satellite network broadcasting across the Middle East, so a station in Turkey was a logical next step.
"For 2000 years Christians have lived in the region," Ekener explained, "but in more recent times, this culture has disappeared and many of these people have left. SAT-7's aim is to explain the Christian faith in the region and to give a voice to the Christians that still live here."
CNN viewers heard how programmes included special church services, worship and teaching, as well as Christian-themed films, documentaries, weekly news and lifestyle shows.
Conscious of the suspicions Christians often face in Turkey, Melih said, "A lot of things are said about the Christian faith and the Christian minority but SAT-7 TÜRK is a place where Christians can correct the misunderstandings that exist about the Christian faith, answer the questions and address the curiosity people have. We want to show that we are just normal people and television is a good vehicle for doing this!"
At the same time, he said, "It also seeks to encourage Christians who feel isolated, for example, by enabling them to watch a worship service on Sunday morning and hear teaching from their favourite pastors and teachers."
Melih added that the opportunity to broadcast SAT-7 TÜRK is a very positive sign that "things in Turkey are changing as we develop and progress our democratic values. This might have been a little slow in coming, but it is happening. Our channel is a step forward – a good step."
After the interview, Melih commented: "I was very pleased that the tone was neither hostile nor sarcastic". Since SAT-7 TÜRK began broadcasting on 14 February, Valentine's Day, he said the channel itself has experienced hardly any negative feedback.
"Although we are a Christian station we hope to appeal across religious and ethnic divides, being a focus to bring unity, love and peace to Turkey".
Launched in 1996, with an international headquarters in Cyprus, SAT-7 broadcasts Christian satellite television to an audience of over 15 million people in the Middle East and North Africa. SAT-7 broadcasts in Arabic, Farsi, and Turkish languages on 5 channels: SAT-7 ARABIC, SAT-7 KIDS, SAT-7 PLUS, SAT-7 PARS, and SAT-7 TÜRK.
For more information about SAT-7 go to www.sat7uk.org
PHOTOS: Top: TÜRK Executive Director Melih Ekener (right) and Broadcasting Manager Gökhan Talas being interviewed on CNN Türk
Above: Melih with a copy of TÜRK Haber newspaper