A new door has opened for SAT-7 to expand its programming for Turkey’s Armenian Orthodox Christian community.
His Holiness Archbishop Sahak Mashalian, the new Armenian Patriarch of Istanbul, told SAT-7 TÜRK last month that he was keen to sign a long-term protocol with the channel. He said he wanted to ensure that “the relationship between the Patriarchate and SAT-7 TÜRK … should continue flourishing for many long years to come”.
SAT TÜRK has been airing its Christian programming on Türksat, the national satellite platform, since February 2015. This includes broadcasting news, documentaries, interviews and services that represent the history and traditions of all the country’s Christians.
SAT-7 TÜRK Executive Director Melih Ekener said, “We have very close relations with all the churches in Turkey and they for their part acknowledge our ministry and continue to support us and pray for us.”
However, during the previous Armenian Patriarch’s long illness, the Armenian Church had been the one exception. Requests to interview its clergy or film at churches had been declined. But that has been changing.
A “wonderfully productive” meeting on 9 September between the Patriarch and Ekener, Programme Manager Cüneyt Arıkan and Board member Kirkor Dinçkayıkçı was the fruit of the patient building of understanding and Ekener’s own personal friendship with the Patriarch.
“The Patriarchate’s views about SAT-7 TÜRK have changed,” Ekener commented. “They now appreciate that we have a nondenominational structure with a mission of uniting the Christian world. We also came to realise that they are now ready to meet whenever we want to collaborate with them on a project.”
Melih Ekener was overjoyed by the Patriarch’s response and said the outcome “is truly important to us as SAT-7 TÜRK”.
A pilot example of cooperation with the Armenian Church was seen at the start of Holy Week this year. On 28 March the Patriarch chose SAT-7 TÜRK to give a special message of encouragement and preparation for Easter to isolated church members during the COVID-19 lockdown. Approximately ten thousand people watched his one-hour interview on SAT-7 TÜRK’s social media site while others viewed it on its satellite television channel.