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TATV showcases Turkey and Turks to American audience

WASHINGTON - Anatolia News Agency | 12/21/2009 12:00:00 AM |

A group of Turks who have been living in the US for many years are making programs promoting Turkey and Turkish people for Turkish-American Television, or TATV. Their programs are broadcast by more than 60 public televisions in Washington, D.C., and its vicinity and draw great interest from Turks and Americans

A group of Turks who founded Turkish-American Television, or TATV, are showcasing both the successes and difficulties of Turks living in Washington, D.C. and promoting Turkey’s history, culture, cuisine and art to Americans.

The programs, which are broadcast on nearly 60 public television channels, have been running for the past four years.

The broadcast team uses the studio and technical equipment of the Fairfax Public Access channel in Washington for a small monthly wage and makes two programs in Turkish and English every month.

The English programs mostly feature Turkey’s culture, music and art, while the Turkish programs carry local Turkish community announcements, tell their success stories and seek to make life easier for Turks living in the United States.

While Turks mainly follow the programs related to their lives in the United States and festival ceremonies, Americans show interest in the tourism and cooking programs, such as programs giving kebab recipes.

For those who miss original airings, the team also uploads their programs to their Web site www.turkishamericanhour.org.

[HH] Aimed at removing prejudices against Turks

The broadcast team consists of Turks with various occupational backgrounds, from advertisement to home decoration. They also hope Turks living in other parts of the country will begin to make similar programs.

Hürriyet Ok, a computer engineer at an international company and one of the founders of TATV, said they came up with the idea to establish the channel after trying to decide how to make a wider announcement for Turkish music choir concerts in Washington.

Ok said they attended courses and started working for the channel. “Prejudices against Turkey and Turks were also influential for us in starting the programs. There is a stereotypical perception about Turkey and Turks. We show very interesting scenes from Turkey and Turks in our English programs. Since the Turkish programs feature Turks living here and their life stories, they enable them to get to know each other,” he said.

“We began broadcasting in 2005 and have made more than 50 English programs and nearly 30 Turkish programs in those four years. These programs are broadcast on nearly 60 TV stations in many regions. We also give our programs to the public TV channels of six or seven municipalities in Washington,” said Ok.

[HH] Praise even in Australia

Ok said they have received positive reactions to their programs. “We have received praise and good wishes through the Internet – even from Australia.”

He said some Turks had attempted similar broadcasting in the past. “One of them continued for a few years and the other continued for six months. There was a group in New York making them commercially but I think they stopped it. As far as we know, we are the first ones to have been working this long voluntarily,” Ok said.

A group of eight or 10 people formed the team’s core, yet nearly 20 volunteers also occasionally worked with them. “We get to spend a nice time with friends. This work brings us together. That is why we forget difficulties as we create good programs,” he said.

Ok said they were pleased with their work despite the odd technical issue. “We hope that we can encourage other Turkish groups to make similar things.”

[HH] Americans surprised

TATV production adviser and architect Erju Ackman, who has been living in the U.S. for 30 years, has been working for the channel since its foundation. Ackman said they began the programs because they felt Turks were occasionally misunderstood in the U.S. “When we leave, others will continue and there will be an archive, a document on the life of Turks in the country. This is why we are happy.”

He said the programs were well appreciated by Americans because they were not simply geared for an ethnic audience. At first, Ackman said, Americans were surprised by the programs because other foreign groups in the country generally made programs appealing only to their own culture, language and ethnic groups.

İbrahim Türk, an independent filmmaker and responsible for TATV’s Turkish programs, has been working for the team for three years. He said the Turkish-language programs focused on Turks living in the U.S.

“There was no resource 50 years ago if someone wanted to make a program on the life of Turks in the U.S.,” he said. “Actually, we have made an archive of the life of Turks here in a sense. How do they live? What are their problems? What are their thoughts regarding their children’s future? We ask these questions,” he said.

“Its importance might not be understood right now but our cultural broadcasting will be an important archive 20 years later,” Türk said.

Sculptor Gökşin Carey, who presents English programs, said even children knew them on the street. “Our most-watched program was the one that gave recipes for Turkish kebab. The interest was extraordinary,” she said.

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