The Independent Communication Network (BİA) is the centre piece of the IPSCommunication Foundation. BİA is an ongoing project trying to accomplish theaim of strengthening the "independent media" by four main activity areas. Eventhough our news site is well-known in Turkey and even more widely known internationally, BİA targets to change the entire communication process beyond its daily news production.
* The BİA Editorial Desk approaches the current agenda of Turkey with the perspective of the news about rights and people. It considers the point of view of outsiders and pursues a perspective for neglect and violation of rights. The Editorial Desk creates a channel for raising the voices of people who would not be heard otherwise. Local radio stations, newspapers and television stations and ordinary people within the network are brought together with the Istanbul news centre and the work of the other BİA units. Bianet.org keeps on publishing.
* The BİA Legal Support Unit monitors and publishes national and local rights violations related to the press. Referring reports are issued on a quarterly and annual basis. The Legal Support Unit also responds to inquiries related to legal issues.
* The BİA Training Programs provide educational programs for employees of communication units such as journalists and editors of local newspapers, radio and television stations, communication students and rights organizations. The various programs take efforts to strengthen the local media by emphasizing a considerate approach of politically and ethically responsible journalism/publication and rights journalism. The programs are being carried out on the assumption that "educators themselves should be educated". The outcome of the programs is presented in a serious of books on "journalism education" published by the BİA Library.
* The Program Production Centre produces radio programs based on rights where local radios lack facilities and resources. Those programs are distributed free of charge to any radio stations. Despite giving a break in recent years, the Production Centre produced four weekly programs for a total of 32 weeks, namely the 45-minute program "Kadın Penceresi" ('Women's Window'), the 30-minute program "Çocuk Radyosu" ('Children's Radio'), the 20-minutes program "Haklısınız" ('You are right') and five minutes per week of "Tarihte Bugün" ('Today in History').
The beginning of BİA
As the heart of the matter, BİA initially started off as an initiative to create a network of co-operation and communication for the foundation of production in the local media, i.e. local radio and television stations and local newspapers.
- Objectives and principles were announced for the first time in a declaration published by local media representatives that came together in the country's capital of Ankara in April 1997.
- These objectives and principles were verified and prepared for their application in the "National Conference" held in May 1997 in Ankara with a broader number of participants.
- In the "Foundation Conference" on 13 January 2001, BİA had exceeded the stage of a project and was announced as an alternative means of communication.
- BİA emerged from seeking a response to the professional downfall of the main stream Turkish media in the 1990s which increased the need for real news sources for the social opposition. The Turkey Union of Chambers of Architects and Engineers (TMMOB) holds a special place among BİA's driving forces.
The annihilation of editorial independence by the merge of the media capital and the financial capital as shown by the two major crises in the beginning of the millennium had terrible results regarding the people's right to information/news. The media had turned into a source of disinformation. This situation directed segments of the society who could not make their voices heard in the mass media towards a search, among them TMMOB and TTB. A field research was developed in co-operation with the IPS Communication Foundation in 1996 upon the TMMOB's idea of establishing an "agency" to communicate their messages to the public. The study revealed a potential beyond the initial perspective. It showed that beyond the agency to be established by TMMOB, there was the possibility to establish a network for the independent media aimed at co-operation based on the production of small-sized local media units such as radios, television channels, newspapers and websites. It showed that the possibilities were lying in establishing a product-based network of small and independent media units - such as radios, television channels, newspapers and internet sites - instead of an agency established by TMMOB. The possibilities of co-operation between non-competing media units was discovered, where each unit could put its product into one common pool and share sound, images and texts. BİA has put effort into this aim ever since the "National Conference" in Ankara in 1997, with the support of the local media, independent newspapers, academics related to communication, rights organizations and professional organizations. BİA aims at becoming a component of the establishment of an "Independent Media" which renders the hegemony of social benefit against the commercial hegemony upon the material and financial tools of production and distribution of information in Turkey and internationally. Thus, the information/contents should become independent of the capital and state and the control of the media should be transferred to the society.
Awards for BİA's achievements
- 2010 - bianet - Association of Journalists of Turkey "Press Freedom Award"
- 2009 - Bawer Çakır (Reporter) - Black Pink Triangle LGBTT Association, Award for Struggle against Hate Crimes.
- 2008 - Tolga Korkut (Human Rights Editor) - Umut ('Hope') Foundation, "Personal Disarmament: Know your right to life" news competition, Internet Journalism Award.
- 2006 - Ayça Örer (Reporter) - Contemporary Journalists Association (ÇGD), Successful Journalists Award.
- 2006 - bianet - Turkish Association of Publishers, "Special Contribution to the Struggle for Freedom of Expression" Award.
- 2005 - Sema Aslan (with an article published at bianet) - Müşerref Hekimoğlu Press Awards Competition, Culture and Arts Award.
- 2005 - bianet - Association of Journalists of Turkey, Award for Achievements in Journalism in Turkey, Internet Journalism Award.
- 2004 - bianet - Turkey Union of Chambers of Architects and Engineers (TMMOB) Chamber of City Planners, City Planning Media Award.
- 1997 - BİA - Turkish Medical Association Press Special Award