ANKARA – Hürriyet
Turkey's state-owned broadcasting corporation plans to set up a new channel to broadcast in the Kurdish language. The new channel is expected to broadcast in Kurmanji, Zaza, Sorani and Gorani -- the four main dialects of the Kurdish language.
�There are 13 television channels broadcasting in Kurdish all around the world. Even Iran has four channels broadcasting in Kurdish,� said İbrahim Şahin, director of the Turkish Radio and Television Broadcast Corporation, or TRT, noting that Turkey's decision is belated.
The TRT has taken no concrete steps yet, except for a databank that was formed to serve the prospective channel. �I just cannot announce a certain date on which the broadcasting in Kurdish will start. But our colleagues have been working hard. We have set up an auction for two TV studios,� said Şahin, adding they have not yet found personnel for the Kurdish channel, �but if I had the staff today, than I would start broadcasting tomorrow.�
There have been some claims that Sinan İlhan, who serves as the coordinator at the TRT and speaks all dialects of Kurdish, is an agent of the Turkish national intelligence service, or MİT. �This is not true,� said Şahin, adding that the TRT transferred İlhan from the Foreign Ministry.
Şahin said the prospective channel is not necessarily looking for native Kurdish speakers. �We are not looking for staff with perfect Kurdish. This is not a must. If our Kurdish citizens can understand the broadcasts then that would suffice,� he said. �We need staff that are sensitive about the national integrity of this country. The new channel will begin and end every day by broadcasting the Turkish national anthem.�
Şahin noted that his priority at the moment is not the Kurdish channel but the one the TRT has already set up for children, which will begin broadcasting Oct.1. �But do not worry, we won't broadcast programs that teach kids how to perform nighttime prayers,� he said in an ironic tone. �The programs will help children to acquire a national identity,� he added.
Şahin said he has no connections with a Sufi order, or with an Islamic community or movement, but he added that his wife wears a headscarf.
Comparisons have been drawn recently between the financial resources of the TRT those of private channels in Turkey. But Şahin said comparing the TRT and other agencies is a mistake because the TRT has a different status. Although the state broadcaster gains less income from advertisements than private channels in Turkey, it has other resources. �Private channels have to survive on income they gain from commercials, but TRT is a player on a different track. We do not need to measure swords with private channels since that means descending to their level. On the contrary, TRT should ascend to the top league of the world's state broadcasters, such as BBC, RAI, ZDF, and ARD,� he said.
Şahin also rebutted criticism that he has been appointing people to certain positions in order to create a group of employees at the state broadcaster who share a different worldview. He did say, however, that the TRT has been undergoing a reform process. �We have been renewing everything in TRT other than its logo,� he added.
BOX BOX BOX
From Ministry of Transportation to TRT
İbrahim Şahin, 46, has been serving as general director of the Turkish state broadcaster, the TRT, for eight months. He has a bachelor's degree in law. After his graduation from the university he passed the exams to become a judge or a prosecutor, but he chose to become a district administrator. He stayed in the post for 14 years. In 2001 he began to work at the Interior Ministry and in 2002, when the Justice and Development Party, or AKP, was formed, he began to serve as advisor to Transportation Minister Binali Yıldırım. He was appointed to the TRT in November 2007.