More than a year has passed since the channel was founded. How do you evaluate your current status?
Let me correct this, we have made the channel accessible via TÜRKSAT on Oct. 29, 2015. However, this did not mean that the channel was opened on this date, as we were not broadcasting 24/7. It was actually a test broadcast. Even today we do not cover news for the entire span of 24 hours. We will start broadcasting internationally in Jan. 2017. While now TRT World can only be watched through the internet and TÜRKSAT, in a two-year period, the channel will be accessible from every part of the world. Therefore, this process will continue until mid-2018. In this sense, the channel is still in the making.
We have different plans which cover three-year and five-year periods. Our first goal was to make our channel known to the people, as brand establishment is a long-term process. Even though we seem to perceive Al-Jazeera and Russia Today as newly established channels, they are over 10 years old. TRT World is around one years old. Still, I believe we have done much and are on the right track.
Moreover, we are working with 70 percent of our capacity in terms of employees. We will be recruiting people in the days ahead. On the other hand, we are working on opening broadcast centers in London, Washington, D.C. and Singapore, in order to cover the U.S., Europe and Asia. As Asia is rising in terms of economy and is an important market, we preferred to open a studio in Singapore. As you know, Singapore is also one of the crucial hubs of the world market.
Our broadcast centers in Washington, D.C. and London will be larger. We will be broadcasting from these centers for four hours each, while broadcasting for 12 hours from Istanbul. This will be our daily breakdown.
Will TRT World have a pro-Turkey stance in all matters? Could you elaborate on your editorial policies?
We are a balanced news channel and a public broadcaster. Public broadcaster means that we are not a state-run news channel. As you know, during the opening ceremony of the TRT World, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan stated that he is not expecting this channel to be the official bulletin of the state. To answer your question, we will be pro-Turkish as much as the BBC is pro-British.
Where do you see the channel in five years? Moreover, what are your criteria for success?
Our criteria for success are to be an internationally influential news channel and to make our audience aware. We have a motto, "Where news inspires change." We do not want a unilateral relation; we have to interact with the audience and inspire change in their opinions. Therefore, we are aiming to become increasingly apparent in the international media. Ad revenues and ratings are not much of importance for us; we desire the socially influential people to watch our channel. This is how a news channel's audience is.
The most important aim in our five-year plan is to be among the top three international news channels which broadcast in Europe, the Middle East and in near Asia. Our goals in the U.S. are more digitally oriented, rather than TV. We will emphasize on digital broadcasting in the U.S. We have a separate team of experienced digital broadcasters who have previously worked for Al-Jazeera and other renowned broadcasters. I believe they will be successful in achieving our goals in a relatively short period of time.
On the other hand, we have a team of news reporters. Instead of permanent correspondents located in various countries, we will have most of them in Istanbul and deploy them wherever and whenever it is necessary. We emphasize on the quality of the news, rather than the quantity. TV is no longer the source of acquiring breaking news; people only watch TV to have an in-depth insight of news they are interested in or when an event on a national scale is taking place. In this sense, we will focus on investigative journalism based on quality.
What are the most significant criticisms or praises you have heard about your editorial policies?
We are receiving positive feedback from other news networks. This can be understood from the number of applications we have received for our open positions. It has not declined even after July 15. Our professionalism, the agencies we work with, and as such are effective in this. This indicates that we are on the right path.
Moreover, there were people who came to us with the bias that freedom of press in Turkey is being threatened. Yet, they ended up criticizing the freedom of press in Turkey less and praising TRT World instead.
On the other hand, there were instances of slander towards our channel. They claimed that they have interviewed certain people, who remain anonymous, from afar and wrote baseless news about channel. Nevertheless, prestigious publications like the Monocle have praised us. We have a positive image in the international media. We are not being regarded as the mouth piece of the government. This is due to our team of quality news reporters, which actually prevents even the possibility of such a thing. We have to be the voice of the voiceless, not the state, as President Erdoğan has stated.
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