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Public service media must keep up with change, TRT conference told

Public service media must change with the times, the head of Turkey’s public broadcaster has told an international conference in Ankara.

Speaking at the conference which marked 50 years of broadcasting, Turkish Radio Television (TRT) Director General and ABU Vice President Mr İbrahim Şahin said PSM organisations must keep pace with the latest trends; they could not remain as they were.

“Lots of innovations were carried out at TRT in recent years,” he said. “We have changed the administrative structure, renewed the technical infrastructure, increased the number of training activities and employed more young people to make the corporation more dynamic.”

Welcoming more than 200 representatives of public service broadcasters from around the world, international broadcasting unions and academics to TRT’s Adnan Öztrak Conference Hall, Mr Şahin added: “PSM [broadcasters] should commune with the audience; if not, the audience will wave goodbye to us.”

He recalled that the foundations of public service media were laid in the 1920s in Europe, a time when radio broadcasting started in Turkey. Commercial broadcasting grew in the 1990s, placing an obligation on TRT to review its understanding of broadcasting.

Mr Şahin said that in 2007, TRT broadcast 235 programs each day, whereas that figure had now risen to 700. TRT had increased its ratings as well, from five per cent in 2007 to sixteen per cent today.

At the conference on “Public Service Broadcasting in the Digital Age, Future, Challenges and Different PSM Practices around the world’’ were the chief executives of the world’s two leading media unions, the ABU and the European Broadcasting Union, represented by its Director General Ingrid Deltenre. They spoke about the different practices of PSM in their respective regions, the challenges awaiting them in the future and possible remedies.

The ABU Secretary-General Dr Javad Mottaghi underlined that the diversity of the ABU was a real opportunity in broadcasting terms and he thanked TRT for its offer to host the Union’s General Assembly Meeting in İstanbul next year.

Mr Şahin and the two union heads later took part in a live broadcast, when Dr Mottaghi praised TRT for its advances in programming, human resources and high quality content, adding: “As the ABU, we are proud to have TRT as a member.”