Television is a powerful medium. However, Turkish viewers ignore Dutch television and point their dishes to receive TV-stations from their home country. The commercial Turkish stations are more popular than the state broadcast TRT INT, receivable through cable. Do these stations actually interfere with integration or are the Dutch stations not making enough efforts to attract Turkish viewer ship?
TRT INT is the international TV-station of the Turkish state-owned broadcasting system TRT. It broadcasts ‘the best of - ‘ programs (read: archived material) of the six national TRTstations from countries where there are large Turkish populations. Taken into consideration that the main aim of any international TV-station is a hidden form of state propaganda (just like RAI UNO from Italy, TVE Internacional from Spain and ERT from Greece), TRT INT goes a step further. This station not only wants to present the Turkish viewers abroad with a Turkey of an immaculate prehistory, including racially pure norms and values which are presently no longer existing in (larger parts of) Turkey. The station also creates a matriarchy in which it exercises a subtle form of social control over the Turkish viewers abroad, who have supposedly fallen into an identity crisis. TRT INT offers help to expatriates in order to retain Turkish culture, language, religion and traditions through documentaries, films, talk shows and music programmes. Furthermore, it informs the foreign Turkish viewers on topics such as law, legislation and social services in Turkey and Western Europe. First generation Turks especially agree with the point of view represented by TRT INT, because these foreign labourers still live with the idea of returning to the country of their birth. Cemil (59), working at a computer company, considers the programs as essential. “Perhaps because it is still in the back of my mind to return one day. Dutch television does not appeal to me, but neither does TNT, I must say. That is a conservative and conceptual station. I do not like their approach. But I do confess that their informative programs about law and rules at home and abroad are indeed very interesting. For example, Hukuk Rehberi on Sunday afternoon is a true guide to law. Very important for people who are about to decide on issues which will affect their future. Maybe when I return one day such advice will serve me well.” Cemil regrets he doesn’t watch Dutch television and his children have criticized him for this. They do not have any interest in Turkish television. “But”, says Cemil, “at my age it isn’t very easy to follow programs in the Dutch language.” He doesn’t master the language sufficiently, and besides, the Dutch speak too fast or use words he doesn’t understand. Even the subtitles run too fast for him to follow. “For nearly 35 years I have been a resident in the Netherlands. At present, nothing will amaze me anymore. The problem with the Dutch is that they love to categorize; every item must fit in a pigeon hole. But Turks do not easily comprehended this. Turkey is a very large country. One’s region, town or village has an enormous influence on one’s personality. In the Netherlands alone you’ll find Turks from many regions. Of course, there is a lot of common ground because we originate from the same nation, but above all, we are human and unique, individuals. Then, one’s self-development is a very determining factor. Actually, we are a sorry bunch, seeing that we apparently oppose Dutch television. We are a people without identity roaming about in no man’s land.” There is great appreciation for programs which tackle issues such as emigration, laws of inheritance, double nationalities, retirement laws, uniting or disuniting families, real estate and divorce. Besides that, TRT INT continues to foster patriotic sentiments with the foreign Turk. On a nearly daily basis viewers are reminded of the heroic deeds of Atatürk and the positive effect of being drafted for military...
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