View Full Version : The Spread of.....

01-06-2006, 01:29 PM


Mustafa Özgen's borrowed Ford Turbo bumps along a Turkish dirt road, 13 miles from the border with Syria. Özgen rumbles past dilapidated houses, abandoned during the country's prolonged war with Kurdish separatists. In the back of his truck, satellite TV dishes are stacked neatly on their sides like silverware in a drawer. Özgen, a Kurd, is making the three-and-a half-hour journey to the village of Kocyigit. But he doesn't use its Turkish name; he insists on the Kurdish appellation, Rosat. Feelings are still a bit raw in southeastern Turkey.

A man wearing an oversize sports coat watches intently as Özgen's truck approaches. He has walked for hours to reach Rosat. When Özgen finally arrives, the man waves him to a halt. "I can't get Animal Planet," he says. "What's the new code? My kids are driving me crazy." Özgen leans out the window to give him two 16-digit codes. After a quick handshake, the man begins the long walk back to his village. "Sometimes they change the codes for channels so people can't watch them without a subscription," Özgen says later. "But I can always find them on the Internet."

Özgen, a door-to-door satellite TV salesman, is part of a new crop of entrepreneurs taking advantage of the repopu­lation of the Turkish countryside. In the process, he has become an unlikely ambassador of culture; the 35-year-old sees his work as more of a humanitarian effort than a capitalist venture. Until a few years ago, this delivery trip would have been illegal - Turkish military routinely destroyed dishes to keep the Kurds from watching TV in their own language. "Men here have gone through the military service and school. They know Turkish," Özgen explains. "But most women speak only Kurdish. They need Kurdish satellite TV." Imagine the Muslim women of Rosat, covered in full-length dresses that tie at the ankle, faces veiled in thin cotton scarves, kicking back with Animal Planet.

Of the 900 channels that Özgen's service beams in from northern Europe, five are broadcast in Kurdish, offering news, talk shows, and US documentaries. Roj TV is the most popular station in the region. It broadcasts in Kurmanji, the Kurdish dialect spoken there, and it is sometimes more reliable than Turkish news, especially on touchy topics like separatist movements that might otherwise go unreported.

Özgen pulls up to Yilmaz Acar's house. Before he cuts the engine, Acar's wife ducks inside. She returns with glasses of ayran (chilled diluted yogurt) and then disappears, as is the custom, until her husband has finished his business. Acar's place doesn't have a roof or windows, but he's willing to put off the purchase of those to buy a satellite dish. He makes just $260 a month from his small grocery store; it will take about a year to pay Özgen's $180 fee on the installment plan. Before today, he plugged his TV into his neighbor's satellite system. But, he says, he's tired of watching his friend channel surf.

In front of another house, Özgen grabs his leather bag and pulls out an access card. This is a special order. News isn't the only thing being beamed from Europe; pornography is, too. Özgen walks up to the front door and furtively slips the card to a middle-aged man, who quickly takes it and shuts the door. Some situations are delicate, and customers would rather not talk at length about their preferences. "People ask for things from a satellite salesman they wouldn't tell anyone else," he says. "I'm like a doctor."

01-06-2006, 03:08 PM
I'm with Dave...that entire region needs daily doses of "Girls gone wild"...it'd loosen them up :D