While the quality of the media sector in Turkey is decreasing day by day, Woman TV is one of the rare institutions that strives not to reduce this quality. Of course, when the name chairing the channel is one of the most important journalists in the country, this should not be surprising. I asked Woman TV to Ahu Özyurt, who succeeded in important journalistic achievements both in Turkey and in the international arena.
First of all, can you tell us about Woman TV?
Woman TV is a channel broadcasting in Turkey with the concept of focusing entirely on women. The channel’s broadcast flow, management and sensitivities are completely formed on the axis of women’s movement and women’s empowerment.
Why was such a formation needed?
The women’s movement grows stronger both in Turkey and in the world. In Turkey, there was a need for an arena to talk about women’s issues and problems. Mainstream channels and news channels are now unable to allocate time and space for women’s problems, violence, health, and the development of children. And if Turkey does not educate and inform the next generation of women correctly, it will have a real perpetuity problem.
You have a reputable journalistic career; how did you feel when you were taking over such a formation?
At a time when it became impossible to work as a journalist in Turkey in the normal sense, I naturally became unemployed. I got fired from the institution I’ve worked for years in a way that we can’t call it friendly. I began working at Woman TV almost 8 months after that. The people who built the structure needed me. We work with our young university students and our senior editor friends who dedicated their years to journalism. Their idealistic spirit and young energy did well to me. I also realized that I have been serving more people here, creating awareness, and doing charity.
Do you think that Woman TV has gained the attention it expected in Turkey?
I cannot say everything was running smoothly before the end of the first year. But I think brand awareness has come to a good place especially in women NGOs, women managers, important brands and health care community. We are not a channel where sensational murders are reported in the news every week, however, for example, if the issue of ‘unlimited alimony’ is on the agenda of Turkey, that’s because of our persistent monitoring.
Are there different channels in the world in a theme similar to yours? Should there be?
Every country has different needs, but I think some countries need this. As we set out, we took the early periods of Arianna Huffington, Oprah Winfrey, Lifetime in the USA, Bravo etc. as examples. But now there are good digital channels that broadcast in this area. Italian Television was curious about our model and sent a team to interview us. A reporter from the Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun said that this model will attract great interest in Japan, a more patriarchal society than us. I also think that this type of ‘woman-specific’ channels will receive interest in Arab countries. It’s not just cooking, and doing yoga. We need to talk about women’s issues.
Why do you believe that this formation would make a difference in a country where women watch more television than men?
Because women are tired of watching the same thing. Six hours long cooking programs should not be broadcasted in any country. But this is the reality in our country. Then the state is concerned about the obesity of women. Also, the bride and mother in law fights that last hours and never-ending TV series tired out us all. Women deserve to see options to choose from and things that will help them in their daily lives.
What would be your reaction if a TV channel only for men was set up?
I don’t think that it would be bad. Most of our TV channels actually address only men. Everyone from their anchormen to program makers is male. News channels are channels that only men watch, and they’re boring. However, male and female relationships should be discussed in a TV channel aimed at men. We cover this. We cover both male sexuality and health. We also cover mobbing at workplaces. We realized men speak more freely on a female channel, which gave us joy.
Woman TV is a brand-new channel, what kind of programs will you broadcast in the future?
I think we should have a little more political approach. We need to talk about global politics through the women’s movement. A refined and good magazine show is always watched.
What are your views on women’s rights in Turkey? Can you say we’re an equal country?
We are far from equality. The political authority is outraged by the word equality, but there is a great deal of pressure and anticipation for men. When women join the workforce enough to alleviate the burden and take their place in social life, our men will become happier and violence will reduce.
Has the political environment in Turkey contributed positively or negatively to Woman TV?
I think it was an advantage for us to have been established during the electoral process, but our stance towards politics as a necessity of conjecture reflected us as an ‘apolitical’ channel. We have left behind three months with candidates and their campaigns, where an immense amount of money was spent, and at the end of the day, the economy got in a lot of trouble. Advertising revenues of big channels have dropped a lot during this period, but we can do great jobs with very small budgets. Advertisers will hopefully invest more in us in the coming months.