Exclusive Interview: Dogan TV’s Irfan Sahin


PREMIUM: Irfan Sahin, the CEO of Dogan TV, talks to TV Europe about the factors that have led to Kanal D’s success.

Kanal D is the undisputed market leader in Turkey, with broadcast, production and international-distribution businesses. In 2010, it was the most-watched network for 308 days out of 365 and in 2011 it maintained that trend. As part of the Dogan Media Group, Turkey’s leading media company, Kanal D uses its considerable resources to produce a variety of shows that not only satisfy its domestic market but are proving to be quite popular around the world.


TV EUROPE: What factors have contributed to Kanal D’s position as the most-watched channel in Turkey?
SAHIN: Launched in 1993, Kanal D is Turkey’s leading media company in the development and production of entertainment, news, and information for a wide audience. Kanal D reflects Turkey’s vision with a modern, creative and innovative approach to television broadcasting. According to 2011 figures, Kanal D has maintained its leading position with an average 20-percent audience share in prime time.
In brief, five factors have contributed to this success: creativity; long-term stability; being part of Dogan, the largest media group in Turkey; talented young people working at the channel;and addressing the large Turkish audience in the right way. All those elements have made Kanal D the leading channel in Turkey for many years.
Being creative, innovative and dynamic, the channel introduced many new television programs, including several television series, foreign movies, talk shows, game shows, children’s, women’s, sports, news and magazine programs. Kanal D has positioned itself at the top of the TV sector with its successful serials, educational and entertaining children’s shows, ethical news programs and talk shows presented by the most popular television stars. We broadcast content that relates to everyone living all around Turkey.
TV EUROPE: In particular, what types of programs resonate the most with the Turkish audience?
SAHIN: For quite some time, locally produced TV series, especially drama series, have been and still are the trend in Turkey. According to rating measurements, the audience chooses to watch Turkish TV series in prime time. Kanal D has a different prime-time series for each day of the week: Arka Sokaklar, Kanıt, Öyle Bir Geçer Zaman ki, Kuzey Güney, Fatmagül’ün Suçu Ne?, Yalan Dünya, Keşanlı Ali, Umutsuz Ev Kadınları. Some are dramas, some are comedies and some are action series. Most of the mainstream TV channels have similar programming schedules. Entertainment and game shows are also the type of programs that resonate with Turkish audiences.
Kanal D is not only a TV channel, it also produces content. We are developing new ideas either in house or with other production companies. Despite always being up to date with global and local trends, we are also trend setters. For example, we have developed the format of Bana Herşey Yakışır and currently it is being exported to many other countries, such as Germany, Spain, the United States and Ukraine.
TV EUROPE: What are the forecasts for the Turkish advertising market this year?
SAHIN: Despite the global crisis, the TV advertising market in Turkey has been and still is strong and growing. In 2011, the Turkish TV ad market increased by 15 percent, thanks to the strong and improving Turkish macroeconomic environment. It is evident the Turkish ad market has  great potential considering the amazing demographics of the country and the expected increase in wealth in the long term.
While the world is still going through the global crisis, in 2012 we are expecting 10-percent growth in Turkish TV advertisement market.
TV EUROPE: What makes Turkish serials popular in many different countries?
SAHÄ°N: The success of Turkish TV productions is stimulated by the high competition in the prime-time slots of the commercial free-to-air TV market. Every commercial TV station airs at least one locally produced drama series. There is a great preproduction process in which the producers and the scriptwriters work hard on the story, the scripts and the cast. The series are shot in HD and in internationally accepted high-quality standards. All these factors differentiate Turkish dramas from their regional competitors and inevitably bring higher quality and popularity.
Turkish TV is no different than others in many aspects. In Turkey, local production, especially drama, is very important. Turkish dramas are local, but the stories have universal elements that can be enjoyed everywhere in the world. The quality of production, cast and scripts is very high and continues to get better. This is highly recognized by the audiences in more than 70 countries in the world.
For the last few years, as Kanal D, we have broadcast TV series that reached 60- to 70-percent audience shares, such as Binbir Gece, Aşk-ı MemnuYaprak Dökümü, etc. Because of their quality, those series are not being aired only in Turkey, they are also being exported to many other countries.