A Shared Love of Broadcasting PDF Print E-mail
2008-06-15 11:29:17
New York – Everything started with two young people who met on the website mandy.com, a website for TV and film professionals to network and communicate. Serdar Acar studied market research and advertising in Turkey and took film and directing courses at New York University. Selçuk Öksüzoğlu obtained a Master's degree in film and media at Hunter College in addition to shooting short films and documentaries, six films in all.
Sinem Saniye, Turkish Hour TV show host, Serdar Acar and Selçuk Öksüzolu are together.

They started on their programming adventure by asking themselves: “How could one broadcast an English-language TV program about Turkey in the US?” After overcoming many physical and financial obstacles, they were able to air the first English-language Turkish program ever produced in the US in March 2005. The program, called Turkish Hour, has since been broadcast in Manhattan and the surrounding areas for 160 consecutive weeks (at the time of this article) and has recently begun to reach 23 million households (in other words about 70 million American viewers) by way of national broadcaster CoLours TV channel.

The program, which started on public access channel Manhattan Neighborhood Network (MNN), lasts 30 minutes and mainly features programming promoting Turkey. Likewise, it gives time to showcasing activities taking place around New York and its surrounding areas. American viewers are also treated to Turkish recipes. Since MNN is a public access channel there is no fee to broadcast most types of programming. However, there are some conditions. Advertising is absolutely not accepted and the program must be made by the person applying for the airtime. Turkish Hour takes its place alongside other ethnic and cultural programs in the program schedule. MNN reaches nearly 550,000 households in Manhattan and other boroughs. Program producer Serdar Acer states the following, “If we assume that every household has four people then the number of people watching us is 2.2 million.”

Without financial support, a costly endeavor such as broadcasting would be next to impossible.
Indeed, the biggest need the Turkish Hour team has expressed from the beginning is financial support. After the first ten weeks of programming on MNN, the Turkish Ministry of Tourism's New York  attaché offered some support.

The adventure at public access channel MNN was quickly coming to an end. Requests were coming in from people who lived outside of the New York area who wanted to watch. This emboldened the two to expand the reach of their programming. Acar and Öksüzoğlu decided to move their program to a channel that would allow for advertising and searched for five months for just such a channel. They met with representatives of more than 80 TV channels. In August of 2005, they managed to rent time for a fee from the Regional News Network (WRNN), a channel that serves New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. Turkish Hour began to be broadcast once a week on WRNN to all three states from August 2005 on. The New York Tourism attaché once again provided support. “We were only able to meet 20 percent of the costs with the help of the attaché,” states Acar. The new channel did, however, bring new viewers to Turkish Hour.

While their viewership numbers during their relationship with MNN was 2.2 million, the number increased to 25 million with WRNN. However, the one missing aspect of the show was advertising. Despite the continuous programming, they weren't able to garner interest from advertisers for the show. As a result, the pair had to give up the program's broadcast on WRNN after struggling to make weekly payments without the help of advertisers.

Although no longer showing on WRNN, MNN still continued to air weekly episodes of Turkish Hour until, after finding support from the Office of the Prime Minister's Turkey Promotion Fund, the program was able to air in three states on WRNN from July 2007 on.

Once again facing a potential audience of 25 million, the pair returned to their efforts with a renewed vigor to find advertisers within the Turkish business community in the US but were again unsuccessful in their attempts. Working solely with the money provided by the state, Acar and Öksüzoğlu had to continue to prepare a small budget for every show produced.  

Öksüzoğlu and Acar were, however, able to negotiate a move to CoLours TV and from March 31, 2008 on started broadcasting to all of the US from their new home. The outcome was unfortunately all too similar to situations before. They were able to obtain funds from the Office of the Prime Minister's Fund for the first couple of months of 2008 but were unable to do so for the second half of the year.
American viewers are also treated to Turkish recipes.

In spite of their financial troubles, Turkish Hour has provided an enormous amount of promotion for Turkey. Acar points out that they have provided 160 30-minute programs without any gaps. “If you consider investing a trifling amount such as $1000 for 30 seconds every week for 160 weeks, you would see that just in Manhattan our programs advertising Turkey are worth 9.3 million dollars. If you add the other regions and national channels that we broadcast to you wouldn't even be able to calculate the benefits, and it would be a huge boost for Turkey,” he states. The Tourism Ministry announced that for the first time, the advertising and promotion budget for North America would be 10 million dollars.

Already broadcasting in mainland America, Alaska, Puerto Rico, and the army bases of Iraq and Afghanistan, Acar stresses that they are staying afloat largely through personal will. “We will continue for another one to two months and will then look at our options. If we can't get funding from the Office of the Prime Minister, Ministry of Tourism, or business circles, we will have to shut down the only television program that has been promoting Turkey in America for the past three years.” He adds, “But we haven't given up hope, we're still cautiously optimistic.”

Monday: 4:30pm CoLours TV (USA Nationwide)
Tuesday: 11:00pm WRNN TV (NY, NJ, CT)
Wednesday: 1:30pm CoLours TV (USA Nationwide)
Thursday: 8:30pm and 1.00am CoLours TV (USA Nationwide)
Sunday: 11:00 AM CoLours TV (USA Nationwide)
Sunday: 10:30pm MNN TV (New York City)
CoLours TV is available on Channel 9407 & 9396 on the DISH® Network Satellite TV. CoLours TV is also available on cable from the following carriers: Time Warner, Comcast, Insight, NCTC and Cox.

States: New York, New Jersey, Connecticut
Counties: Westchester, Putnam, Fairfield, Orange, Rockland, Hudson, Essex, Bergen, Pike, Sullivan, Ulster, Dutchess, Passaic, Somerset, Union, Middlesex 
Boroughs: Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, The Bronx

Cable Vision: Channel 19 or 6
Time Warner: Channel 91, 12 or 22
RCN: Channel 16
Comcast: Channel 20, 19, 25 or 26
DirecTV: Channel 62 or 394
Echostar (DISH Network): Channel 62 or, 116
Charter Communications: Channel 2, 4 or 14
Nuvisions: Channel 14
NYU TV: Channel 68
Paragon Cable: Channel 23
Berkshire Cable: Channel 4
Valstar Cable: Channel 42
MidHudson Cablevision: Channel 69
Last Updated ( 2009-07-09 22:45:10 )
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