Saturday, November 21, 2009
Here's one of many articles in Turkish on BBC Turkish turning 70 today, meaning its first broadcast occurred on 20 November 1939, just two months after World War II began. BBC Turkish itself has a page here with a lot of photographs from its earliest years. As this page mentions, the commencement of broadcasting in Turkish (and other languages) was part of a strategy by the British government at the time to fight against German and Italian propaganda. The first foreign language added on at the time was Arabic, followed by Spanish and Portuguese.
BBC also broadcasts in a number of other Turkic languages, but it's a bit difficult to ascertain any overall strategy there. It broadcasts for example in Kyrgyz (5 million) but not Kazakh (12 million), in Azeri but not Turkmen, and its Uzbek page is still in Cyrillic (except for a few links) even though it hasn't been the official script of the language for quite some time now (currency switched over in 2001, official sites in 2004).
For Turkic languages though, the broadcaster you want to listen to is TRT. They broadcast in Azeri, Kazakh, Kyrgyz, Uzbek, Tatar, Turkmen, and Uyghur.