Radio and Television: Turkey

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Outline of Turkish state- and independent-media broadcasting developments.

Radio broadcasting in Turkey began in Istanbul in 1927, when there were roughly 5,000 radios in the country, and a few months later in the same year Ankara Radio began broadcasting. The value of radio as a vehicle for mass mobilization and education was immediately realized by the new Republican authorities, and programming consisted mainly of news bulletins, concerts, weather, and programs such as Radio Gazete (Radio Journal), presenting news summaries; Evin Saati (Home Hour), a homemaking show; and Ziraat Takvimi Saati (Calendar Hour on Agriculture), appreciated in rural areas. In 1942 around 60 percent of programming was musical, another 35 percent consisted of speeches and discussions, and the number of radios in the country had risen to more than 100,000, or around 4.1 per thousand people, with half concentrated in Ankara and Istanbul.

With multiparty politics in 1946 the Democrat Party came to power in 1950. Frustrated by newspapers' general support for the opposition, it began to pressure the radio to reflect its party views. In the wake of the coup of 1960 regional stations were established in İzmir, Adana, Antalya, Erzurum, Gaziantep, and Kars. With the expansion of radio and demand for television, the state Turkish Radio and Television (TRT) Corporation was established in 1964. In 1969 a radio station was established in Diyarbakir.

Television broadcasting began in 1968, transmitting from Ankara, then from İzmir in 1970 and Istanbul in 1971. Following the coup of 1971 the autonomy of the TRT was curbed, neutralizing its treatment of social and political issues; the 1980 coup temporarily narrowed again the range of discussion on TRT. By 1977 television transmissions reached about 60 percent of the population, and in 1981 selected programs began to be broadcast in color. TRT 2 (culture and art) was established in 1986, and 1989 saw the creation of GAP-TV, directed toward the southeast, and TRT 3. In 1990 the stations began broadcasting via satellite, greatly extending coverage, including TRT-INT for the Turkish population in Europe.

Satellite dishes became popular in the late 1980s for watching "pirate" channels broadcasting from Europe, including Turkish-language ones, and in the early 1990s for watching private stations in Turkey. The wider range and frankness of discussion, as well as the perceived drabness of TRT, combined with agreements to carry soccer matches on the new channels, led to their instant success. In 1993 the government closed all pirate radio and TV stations, to the public's strong objection, and then officially ended its monopoly of TV and radio broadcasting in 1994 and set up a High Council for Radio and Television (RTÜK) to handle licensing and infrastructure, but also to monitor broadcasts and mete out fines and suspensions.

In the late 1990s Turkey launched its own satellites, greatly expanding broadcast areas in Europe, the Middle East, and Central Asia. According to a 1996 survey, more Turkish households had television sets than had telephones, an indication of how profoundly TV has become a part of social life in the country. TV, and to a lesser extent radio, are now major economic sectors subject to market pressures, and play major roles in the formation of public opinion and popular culture.

see also newspapers and print media: turkey.


Aksoy, Asu, and Robins, Kevin. "Peripheral Vision: Cultural Industries and Cultural Identities in Turkey." Environment and Planning A 29 (1997): 19371952.

Creatonic Media Research. "A Brief History of Television in Turkey." Available from <>.

Idil, Esra. "Political Changes Reflected in Turkey's Radio System." Turkish Daily News Electronic Edition. http://Available from

Sahin, Haluk, and Aksoy, Asu. "Global Media and Cultural Identity in Turkey." Journal of Communication 43, no. 2 (1993): 3141.

brian silverstein