Select Committee on Foreign Affairs Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum from BBC World Service


  BBC World Service broadcasts to Turkey in both English and Turkish. This submission sets out a summary of activity and impact, together with a brief outline of the background to recent problems with FM rebroadcasting and the current situation.



  Three times a day at 0700, 1800 and 2230 Turkish time, Monday-Friday.

  The 1800 transmission also goes out on Saturdays and Sundays.

  On Sunday mornings at 1100 Turkish time there is a one-hour transmission repeating features of the week for listeners who may have missed the first broadcast.

  Weekly transmissions total 13 hours.

  [Before July 2001 the total was 14¼ hours. The reduction represents a move into online.]


  Regularly updated news service at started in July 2001 and its pages make radio features available to an online audience. Latest figures for page impressions at show 40,000 + per month. This understates the position because the news page consists, for technical reasons, of just one "page". Each visitor to the news page therefore only registers one page impression even though they may have been through as many as 6 stories.

Editorial approach

  Programmes are mainly news and current affairs. Listeners are informed about developments from around the world as well as from Turkey. International stories with a Turkish dimension are covered extensively. Turkish foreign issues and important domestic stories are also covered. There is reporting from the field, analysis by experts and interviews with politicians, academics, representatives of NGOs.

  The schedule also includes features on science and arts, and a weekly feature reflecting life in Britain. BBC Turkish has also taken part in pan-World Service educational projects using funding from non-Grant-in-Aid sources. These have taken the form of occasional one-off multi-part series dealing with such issues as old age, disability, sex education, and human rights. Other special series have included adaptations of BBC World Service English series such as The History of Civilisation, and An Essential Guide to the 21st Century. Recent series for BBC Turkish include the Bonn environment conference and the history of Gastarbeiter from Turkey in Germany.


Audience numbers

  In the aftermath of the military coup in 1980, there was a large audience for the Turkish service, which remained high during the long war between the Turkish security forces and the PKK. With the advent of private radio and television from 1992 audience figures stood at 900,000. Between 1993-99, Turkish programmes were re-broadcast by local private radios on FM and this helped to retain and increase the audience.

Audience profile

  People from almost all sections of the public listen but, significantly, more than 20 per cent of opinion leaders listen regularly to BBC Turkish. BBC programmes both in Turkish and English are quoted very frequently in the Turkish media and by Turkish Foreign Ministry officials.


  After broadcasting in Turkey was deregulated in the early 1990s, there was an explosion in the numbers of radio and television stations. Audiences have fragmented. Among international broadcasters, only BBC Turkish has retained a small but worthwhile market share. Deutsche Welle and Voice of America have been all but wiped out.

Current re-broadcasting position

  In November 1999 the Turkish broadcasting regulator, RTÜK, decided that re-broadcasting was illegal. So the BBC's former FM partners now face a ban on re-broadcasting BBC programmes. In June 2001, BBC Turkish started re-broadcasting again with a new independent national partner, NTV Radyo. Unfortunately, RTÜK changed its mind about the legality of re-broadcasting once more and NTV was forced to stop re-broadcasting on 19 November 2001. NTV is pursuing the issue in the courts and there has been support for them and the BBC from the European Union and from HMG. The Turkish Foreign Ministry has also intervened. Nonetheless, for much of the last two years programmes have been available only on short wave and on the internet. The loss of the FM re-broadcasting undoubtedly means a drop in the number of listeners. BBC Turkish believes it has retained at least its short wave audience which is about 500,000. Even if the court actions are not successful, Turkey's efforts to bring its laws into line with the requirements of European Union membership mean that amendments to the broadcasting law are likely to be approved over the next year—so re-broadcasting should start again.

  BBC Turkish programmes are available on FM in Kosovo and in Baku. Greek state radio re-broadcasts 10 minutes of BBC news in Turkish in Greece.


    —  To return to re-broadcasting on FM in Turkey as soon as possible. Our partner is poised to carry BBC Turkish programming as soon as they have a legal all-clear.

    —  To continue developing the BBC Turkish online offer.

    —  To seek opportunities for re-broadcasting on digital platforms both in Turkey and in Europe—there are three million Turkish speakers in Germany alone.

BBC World Service

22 January 2002

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