The recent technological advancements and lower financial entry barriers into the media industry have led to changes in practices of mass communication (Oyedeji, 2007). The current media environment is able to deliver specialized content to niche audiences in various formats through a large number of media channels (Goldstein, 2004). Not only the new media vehicles (e.g., blogs, satellite radio, podcasts, online video and news sources, etc.) and traditional media types (radio, television, magazines, and newspapers) presently compete for audiences and advertising revenues, but also the competition among the traditional media vehicles has become more intense. As a result, media organizations found themselves forced to adopt strategic management decisions and practices that had been once commonly used for the marketing of consumer products (Oyedeji, 2007). Television networks (e.g., ABC, CBS, NBC) have long sought to differentiate their products on the basis of functional attributes such as content features and presentation. That is because gaining competitive advantages based on only product attributes (e.g., news, entertainment and sports) has become harder due to the increase in media outlets and fragmentation of audiences. Consequently, the television networks have to find ways of building distinctive and meaningful brand images in the minds of news audiences (Chan Olmsted and Cha, 2008).
IMPORTANCE OF BRANDING IN A DEVELOPING MARKET
While brand consultants emphasize the importance of branding, television networks shift their focus from their earnings per share to long-term shareholder value. Branding has become more important than programming because the value of a successful brand lasts longer and is higher than a program (Ryan, 1999; Chan-Olmsted and Cha, 2007). Yang and Tso (2007, p. 19) affirm that "In the field of media management, understanding consumer acceptance of media products is becoming a central issue in the face of audience fragmentation and media globalization." Prior research concludes that international television programs in general moved from more advanced and culturally dominant countries to developing or less developed countries (Chadha and Kavoori, 2000; Chung 2005; Yang and Tso, 2007).
As one of the developing countries, Turkey is a great example of a market to study because of the rapid growth in the TV network industry. Since the first domestic television transmission signal was received in Turkey in 1968, the state-owned Turkish Radio and Television Corporation (TRT) held its monopoly position without facing any competition until 1990. However, after 1990, the Turkish TV industry experienced a boom of private TV channels in Turkey. This new era brought changes in the areas of production techniques and formats, and content of programs. Consequently, in 3-5 year span, the Turkish TV and Broadcasting industry became very competitive, offering new and interesting program formats. According to an OECD 1999 report (Hurriyet, 1999), Turkish Radio and TV industry experienced record growth during 1995-1997, with a two-year growth rate of 24.3%, compared to the 3.4 % OECD average. The same report indicates that the revenue in the Turkish Radio and TV industry grew at the annual rate of 26.6%, growing from $341.2 million in 1995 to $546.81 million in 1997. The growth of the Turkish Radio and TV industry continues today, making the industry even more competitive than it was in the 1990s. In 2009, the number of TV channels reached 199 (national, local and thematic). The rising number of the TV channels has intensified the competition in the Turkish TV industry which increased the importance of branding and the brand equity concept among TV channels in developing and implementing their business strategies.
CONSUMER-BASED BRAND EQUITY
Branding is one of the most important management practices (Chan-Olmsted & Kim, 2001; Lin, Atkin, & Abelman, 2002) in the strategic management process for identifying a product and distinguishing it from similar goods and services (Aaker, 1991). …