Turkish channel Natural TV reaches African audience
Zeynep Bilgehan – ANKARA
The channel starts the day with cartoons and continues by featuring health, agriculture, music and cultural content. It also features news from Turkey’s state-run Anadolu Agency.
Along with foreign production films, the audience also has the chance to watch Turkish production films on the channel such as “Anadolu Kartalları” (Anatolian Eagles) and “A.R.O.G.” Popular Turkish series will be featured on the channel soon too.
“We get hundreds of videos from various parts of Africa who watch Natural TV. It makes me spiritually very happy to carry Turkish culture and economy to African homes with this channel,” Natural TV CEO Tuncay Demir told daily Hürriyet.
The Ankara-based Natural TV broadcasts 24/7 both in English and French languages. Its area of coverage includes 22 African countries and reaches about 5 million homes. The channel’s presenters consist of young people from Rwanda, Ghana and Nigeria.
“There is a great market in Africa. Turkey gives importance to this market and wants to open into there. And we thought, ‘Why does this opening up not have a media leg?’ and one-and-a-half years ago we founded Natural TV,” said Demir.
“There is a big educated African population in Turkey. When we started broadcasting, we met Africans who are doing their PhDs here, are businesspeople, or are receiving medical education. In time, the number of our staff increased, and we also started receiving ideas from them,” Demir said, adding that although the channel broadcasts in English and French languages, their aim was to broadcast in also “local languages.”
“We are especially being watched in Ghana, Nigeria, Niger, Burkina Faso, Liberia and Senegal. Africans have a great interest in Turkey. And with us, their view towards the ‘white man’ is changing. We stand by all firms who want to open up to that region [Africa]. The [Turkish] state is therefore supporting us,” he said.
Demir said that the Turkish Trade Ministry is paying 70-80 percent of the advertisement costs of firms that work with the TV channel. “Turkish Airlines is one of the firms we are working with. We’re also working with Maarif Foundation. We appeal to 500 million in the region,” he said.
Including the producers who work freelance for Natural TV, the number of the staff exceeds 30. The personnel consist of mostly youngsters in their 20s from Kenya, Rwanda, Ghana and Nigeria.
Odile Ntuali from Rwanda, who presents on the channel in French, told Hürriyet that it was her sixth year in Turkey. “I have finished the Airline Operator degree of the University of Turkish Aeronautical Association. I came to Natural TV because I like journalism. I love my job. I find it peaceful to live in Ankara,” said Ntuali.
Another staffer of the TV channel is Anissa Mugeni from Rwanda. She is a talk show presenter. “It is great to inform the Africans from another place in the world. At first everyone thinks Natural TV broadcasts from Africa, but when they find out it broadcasts from Turkey, it is very interesting and exciting for them,” said Mugeni.
Camilos Lovos from Rwanda is the channel’s sports program presenter. He said that their audience watches mostly football, but channel also broadcasts other sports branches such as basketball and tennis. “Before, Africans used to know about only three [sports] clubs from Turkey: Beşiktaş, Galatasaray and Fenerbahçe. But now they ask questions like ‘What happened to Antalyaspor? What happened to Trabzonspor’s [player] transfers?’” he said.
Turkish African Affair Council president Abdülaziz Ünal told Hürriyet that there is a “big interest” from Africa to Turkey. “Africans got bored of the Chinese and Europeans. Since Turkey-Africa relations are very good, there is an enormous interest towards Turks [from Africa]. There is especially a part in the region [in Africa] that wants to do health tourism, but since they do not know where to go, they tend towards India, but that is far away,” Ünal said.
“Thanks to the [Natural TV] channel, like the Arabs who come to Turkey for hair transplants, there are now Africans who started to come to Turkey for cataract surgeries,” he said.