Istanbul, Turkey -- Despite the hardships ravaging the
country following two devastating earthquakes, one local company is hoping to shake up the
NTV, an arm of Dogus Group -- a holding company with
interests ranging from financial services to construction -- aims to gain a greater
foothold in multichannel television. Launched three years ago, NTV now claims to be a
market leader in news programming, and it was a major supplier of earthquake coverage to
international news organizations.
The channel had expected to become profitable this year,
but the earthquakes delayed the target. Still, CEO Nuri Colakoglu expects NTV to earn $30
million in ad revenue in 1999 -- almost double last year's $16 million and up from $4
million in 1997.
He attributed NTV's strength to its effort to produce
higher-end programming. "We started off very much as the underdog, with few observers
expecting much success from a news channel," he said. "In the meantime, the main
network-news shows were going more tabloid, going down-market in their fight for ratings.
We took the other route."
In addition to news, NTV televises six hours of sports on
Saturdays and Sundays. It also has an impressive reach, with distribution in 75 percent of
Turkish homes, thanks to an aggressive policy of terrestrial, satellite and cable
"In the first year, we built 238 transmitters and
repeaters right across the country, and even outside," Colakoglu said, adding that
NTV has analog and digital distribution on Eutelsat satellites. "We estimate that we
are accessible to another 3.5 million Turks outside of the country across Europe."
Last month, NTV upped the ante when it began transmissions
of NTV-International (NTV-I), with news reports in Turkish and English.
In addition to the two news channels, NTV owns music
network POP TV, and it recently acquired Kanal E, which it is morphing into a
business-news and entertainment channel.
"This channel had an odd mix, but within [it], there
were strong business elements. And we are remodeling this as Kanal EE, standing for
Economy and Entertainment," Colakoglu said. During the day, Kanal EE will transmit
feature reports from financial markets. At night, it lets its hair down, with foreign
series, concerts and films.
There's more in the pipeline. "NTV is rapidly changing
into a media group, and we intend to launch or acquire other thematic channels because
this is where the democracy of television lies," Colakoglu said.
"Our aim is to create six of those channels, and some
we now have in place: news, entertainment, kids, sports, documentary and music, as well as
film," he added. "This could be offered to the digital platforms that are now
NTV intends to acquire more channels. "We will launch
our thematic channels step-by-step -- we can't rush. But I am looking at channels that
already exist, perhaps less well managed," Colakoglu said. "Our broadcast
facility is 10,000 square meters with six broadcast studios, and acquisitions make perfect
The motive on that front, he added, is due to difficulties
in licensing new channels in Turkey, as well as to a dearth of cable and terrestrial