At a time of heightened anxiety in Turkey following the failed 15 July coup, Christian satellite TV broadcaster SAT-7 has been given a new opportunity to offer Turkish viewers words of hope and healing.
Just days before the events that have plunged the country into crisis, SAT-7’s Turkish language channel announced it had begun broadcasting on the country’s D-Smart subscription TV network.
SAT-7 TÜRK Broadcast Manager Gökhan Talas said: “This is a new and major step for SAT-7 TÜRK. It means we will gain more audiences and prestige as a Christian TV channel and that Turkish-speaking people will have even more opportunities to learn about the Gospel of Our Lord Jesus Christ.”
SAT-7 International CEO Dr Terence Ascott explained that “being on the D-Smart platform will make it easier for new viewers in Turkey to discover us as we now appear in their electronic programme guide alongside a range of premium channels. SAT-7 also appears in the free-to-air channels that D-Smart includes, so their viewers will actually have two chances to find us!”
SAT-7’s arrival on D-Smart follows the breakthrough leap the network made in December 2014. At that time SAT-7 TÜRK was given permission to broadcast on Türksat, Turkey’s state-regulated satellite TV provider. This made SAT-7 the first Christian channel on the nation’s main satellite system watched by 55 million people.
To the channel’s delight and surprise, SAT-7 TÜRK Director Melih Ekener said that viewer feedback in the first year on Türksat was overwhelmingly positive: “We were worried that we would receive a lot of bad reactions, but that hasn’t been the case… God is working!”
Independent market research* conducted across Turkey during 2015 showed both a low level of understanding of Christianity and an openness to learn. While only 10% of Turks felt they knew ‘a lot’ or had ‘a good amount of knowledge’ about Christianity, 57% indicated a willingness to build friendships with Christians and 29% expressed some interest in watching a Christian TV channel.
Call for prayer
The good news about SAT-7 TÜRK comes, of course, against the backdrop of deeply unsettling times in Turkey, one of the Middle East’s largest and most strategic nations.
In response to the failed coup which claimed nearly 300 lives and the subsequent state of emergency, SAT-7 is urging UK Christians to pray for Turkey and for the witness of its small Christian community.
Speaking in a short video, Dr Ascott asked believers to pray for the following key concerns:
- That Christians in Turkey will not only be protected but be salt and light to help bring healing to the country at this troubled time.
- For safety for SAT-7 TÜRK and its 30 or so full and part-time staff, and that broadcasts will go out uninterrupted. (The channel was off air on 15 July for several hours when the Türksat broadcast centre came under pressure from the coup organisers.)
- For stability and peace in Turkey, one of three great powers in the Middle East region and the one which currently plays the largest role in hosting millions of refugees from neighbouring Syria. If Turkey were destabilised, this would have an even greater global impact than the crisis we have seen in Syria.