« State pressure in Turkey leads unmarried TV couples to tie the knot  » – Hürriyet Daily news

Zeynep's frustration at not being able to convince Ozan to settle down had been a comedic source for the writers over the show’s previous 250 episodes. Source : Hürriyet

« Pressure from Turkish TV’s watchdog is forcing the writers of a popular TV show to have their lead characters, an unmarried couple, wed in the interests of promoting greater morality, daily Habertürk reported today.

Zeynep and Ozan, the couple in the popular « 1 Erkek 1 Kadın » (One Man, One Woman), will be married in a wedding scene that is to be included in next week’s episode following pressure by the Turkish Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTÜK).

The pair’s failure to tie the knot, due to Ozan’s reluctance to settle down, was one of the key dynamics to the show, which features a series of skits that follow the couple during their daily routines.

Zeynep’s frustration at not being able to convince Ozan to settle down had been a comedic source for the writers over the show’s previous 250 episodes.

RTÜK, however, has been criticizing the show for some time, accusing the writers of encouraging extramarital affairs. The cohabiting couple is often portrayed as sexually active.

The general director of the show, Müge Turalı, recently announced the screen wedding, but added that the original story, which was adapted for Turkish TV, made no clear mention of the characters’ official marital status.

« It is a format adaptable to the culture and social values of the host country, » Turali was quoted as saying. « In some countries they never got married. In others, like Lebanon, they were a married couple from the start. »

A similar plot fix has been made to the popular cop show « Behzat Ç., » in which the lead actor, a maverick homicide detective, was finally hitched to his long-time girlfriend. « 

Source : Hürriyet Daily News

« Turkish media expands global presence » – SES Türkiye

By Menekse Tokyay for SES Türkiye in Istanbul — 29/05/12

While Turkish soap operas have received much fanfare outside the country, much less noticed is the news media’s expansion to regions of strategic interest.

Turkish media has embarked on an ambitious agenda of projecting its reach in multiple languages throughout the Balkans and in regions where Turkey has strategic interests, as the country asserts itself on the international stage.

Through its media, Turkey is reinforcing a positive image, tapping into what Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has described as Turkey’s « strategic depth. »

Until recently the state-run Anatolia News Agency (AA) published in Turkish and English, but expanded in March to publish in Bosnian, Serbian and Croatian through a new bureau in Sarajevo.

An Arabic service that will be based in Egypt’s capital, Cairo, was launched this month. In co-operation with media in Arab countries, Turkish and Middle Eastern news will be provided to Turkish and Arab audiences.

An Azeri and Russian service will also begin within months, and by 2020, AA’s 100th anniversary, it plans to publish in 11 languages, including Kurdish, Chinese, French, Spanish and German.

Kemal Kaptaner, director of the corporate communications unit at AA, said the bureau in Sarajevo, for example, gives priority to news about the bilateral relations between Turkey and regional countries in order to emphasise the proximity between people in cultural and social terms.

« Before our services were launched, Turkey was newsworthy only when there was a terrorist attack. But now, thanks to AA’s services, people of the region can be much more aware about social, cultural and economic developments in Turkey, » he told SES Türkiye .

Turkey’s parliament passed a bill in March 2008 allowing the state-owned TRT to broadcast programmes in languages other than Turkish. The law paved the way for broadcasts in Turkey’s « near abroad, » where it has played a more prominent economic and political role. Broadcasts now cover the Middle East, Central Asia and the Caucuses, the Balkans and Turkish communities in Europe. TRT Arabic, for example, can reach an audience of 350 million people.

The decision to establish TRT-SES in Kurdish also attracted much attention. It was viewed as a positive step to expand Kurdish cultural and linguistic rights in Turkey and also reach Kurdish-speaking communities outside Turkey’s borders in the Middle East and Europe.

Voice of Turkey, a radio channel under the auspices of TRT, broadcasts in 35 languages and is the world’s fourth largest radio station in terms of the number of foreign languages broadcast.

Telling of its role in foreign policy, Voice of Turkey’s first broadcast was an Arabic transmission of former Prime Minister Ismet Inonu’s speech on the Hatay issue in 1937, before the ethnically mixed province was annexed by Turkey from Syria in 1939.

This expansion of media parallels the pro-active foreign policy role Turkey has played in its region over the past decade.

According to Mucahit Kucukyilmaz of the Ankara-based SETA Foundation, up until the early 2000s Turkish media didn’t grasp the scope of the country’s expanding foreign policy, leaving Turkey behind its Western peers.

« For example, we had been informed of the news from the Middle East through a translated language. So, whatever the Western news agencies viewpoint was, we adopted the same, » Kucukyilmaz told SES Türkiye .

The same point was raised by Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc in a series of Twitter posts May 15th when AA Arabic was launched.

« We have all been witness to grave manipulations that astonished us in the Middle Eastern geography, particularly during the Gulf War. Prestigious news agencies that we all know were the leaders of operations with their broadcasts. Not only in the Middle East; we witnessed the same thing in Bosnia. The media remained insensitive for a long time to the seriousness of events, » Arinc wrote.

In the past, Turkish media had difficulty keeping pace with global trends and regional events, something AA is working to overcome.

« There were a handful of journalists who knew Arabic, Russian, Persian and even Kurdish. Nobody really cared to open representation offices or hire journalists, even in our neighbouring regions, » Kucukyilmaz said.

But over the past decade TRT and AA assumed the lead in orienting the future of Turkish media by investing in multi-lingual staff, making field studies, and developing technical and intellectual capacity.

Hakan Copur, a media expert from the Turkish Presidency, says that inward-looking and unassertive countries need no multilingual journalism or broadcasting.

« However, for a country like Turkey, whose zone of influence goes beyond its national boundaries, such a trend is not a luxury but rather a necessity, » Copur told SES Türkiye .

He said elements of soft power are just as important as hard power in global politics. « Especially public diplomacy needs such tools to merge public communication and diplomacy, » he said. « In this regard, multilingual broadcasts will form a foundation for Turkey to utilise its soft power not only in the region, but in global politics as well. »

Plamen Ralchev, an assistant professor at the University of National and World Economy in Sofia, focusing on strategic communications, international public relations and public diplomacy, said that a keen understanding of local languages will bring Turkey closer to the foreign audience.

« The majority of Bulgarians have no clue about this language, so if TRT International launches a Bulgarian-language broadcast it will definitely improve communication channels delivering messages to a Bulgarian audience, » he said.

Paraphrasing the Turkish Airlines slogan « Globally Yours, » he says that with TRT and AA, Turkish media has become « globally public. »

« What is more significant is making Turkey’s voice heard internationally, Turkey’s views expressed and spread around, Turkey’s commitment to a global posture comprehended. Definitely, Turkey has a story to tell … and to sell, too, » Ralchev said. »

Source : SES Türkiye

« Turkish viewers complain about dramas » – Hürriyet Daily News

Turkey’s internationally recognized TV series ‘Magnificent Century’ ranks second on the list of TV productions that Turkish viewers complain most, according to RTÜK. Source : Hürriyet

« Complaints received by the Turkish Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTÜK) in the first three months of the year show that Turkish viewers complain about TV dramas and commercials the most.

According to information gathered from the RTÜK’s report, its website and communication center received 27,363 complaints from citizens in January, February and March. Out of this figure, 9,530 complaints were about TV dramas and 4,818 were about commercials.

Most of the complaints were made according to the criteria that programs were against public morals and the protection of the family.

The TV drama that received the most complains was “Yer Gök Aşk” (Love is Everywhere), which received 742 complaints. The other two were “Muhteşem Yüzyıl” (Magnificent Century) and “Suskunlar” (The Silent).

Honey and toothpaste

Among commercials, viewers complained about honey commercials the most, as they mislead consumers. A toothpaste commercial ranked second as it was considered depressing, while a potato chip commercial ranked third as it portrayed women as sexual tools and was insulting to men. »

Source : Hürriyet Daily News

« Turkey, Greece bridge cultural gap with romance » – SES Türkiye

By Menekse Tokyay and HK Tzanis for SES Türkiye in Istanbul and Athens — 21/05/12

« Romance and « clandestine relationships » between ordinary Greeks and Turks is again the vehicle for another big-budget Turkish romantic comedy. The theme is far from uncommon in real life.

« Iki Yaka Bir Ismail » (Two Shores, One Ismail), the new Turkish romance series — shot on location on the eastern Aegean island of Lesvos (Mytilene) and in Aivali, across from the island in Turkey — was released earlier this month.

Playing on the theme of mixed marriage — this time between a Turkish fisherman and Greek island divorcee — it follows the wildly popular Turkish series « Yabanci Dama » (Foreign Groom), which debuted in 2004.

« For me, [mixed marriage] is no longer a taboo — I know of many Greeks now married to Turkish women, and quite a few Turkish men married to Greek wives. They live here in Mytilene, several in Aivali, in Larissa [in central Greece], everywhere, » according to actress Eleni Filini, one of the protagonists in the new series and a former beauty queen in the 1980s.

Take the real life couple of Aslihan Ozkara and Nikos Dimos, who met at a party a few years ago in Istanbul. In August 2008, the couple married in a surprise wedding held in the same Bosporus metropolis.

Ozkara told SES Türkiye the fact that she and her husband hailed from different ethnic backgrounds meant nothing, as they are very similar as individuals.

Contrary to expectations, the marriage was well-received by their respective families.

« Probably because our families had lived abroad for a long time and were used to such mixed marriages, so it wasn’t perceived as something unusual, » she explained, adding that her husband’s family is also the product of a mixed marriage.

« So we, in a sense, continued a tradition. Nikos’ father was Greek and his mother Turkish. So, we didn’t see any weird reaction, » Ozkara said.

She added, however, that their marriage helped overcome certain latent and deeply rooted prejudices in their immediate social circles. « Through our marriage we tried to establish a bridge between these two cultures; to know each other and to understand each other in better ways, » she said.

Another successful « love story » from both sides of the Aegean is the Tsitselikis-Ozgunes family.

Meric Ozgunes and Constantinos Tsitselikis met at a Greek-Turkish civic dialogue workshop and currently live in the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki.

« Our respective nationalities definitely did not lead us to have a negative perception [of each other]. We were already involved in Turkish-Greek issues and open to dialogue; and a lot more than our nationalities united us. We were, in any case, against nationalism and cherished multi-culturalism, » Ozgunes told SES Türkiye.

The couple was married during an official wedding ceremony in 2005, conducted in both Turkish and Greek, in Thessaloniki. As the parents of young children, they have neither baptised the children in the Orthodox Christian faith or ceremoniously circumcised them, as per the Muslim ritual.

« We will leave this decision to their will, » Ozgunes explained.

Asked about reactions towards the marriage, Tsitselikis said both families were very respectful of their decision, with the only queries coming from acquaintances or neighbours, who asked about the ubiquitous issue of religion.

« We had to face questions regarding what religion our children would have, if we were to have any, » he said.

Tsitselikis and Ozgunes said they believe the impact of such marriages can only be measured on their immediate social and professional circles.

« It definitely allowed some people around us, such as relatives and neighbours, to come into contact with the ‘other’, to put flesh and bone to a ‘Turk’ or a ‘Greek’, and therefore, it helped break certain stereotypes, » Ozgunes explained.

Ayse Gunduz Hosgor, an expert on mixed marriages from the Ankara-based Middle East Technical University, underlined that mixed marriages are a contributing factor to integration for at least one of the two partners.

« When we discuss mixed marriages amongst different ethnicities, the level of education and professional sophistication are determinants in laying the groundwork for potential partners [of different cultures] to meet each other, » Hosgor told SES Türkiye.

Nevertheless, she also pointed to the importance of religion when assessing the sustainability of such marriages.

Beyond the interest generated by real life mixed marriages, « Iki Yaka Bir Ismail » is already generating a tourism boon on Lesvos via a cascade of reservations by Turkish tourists, according to travel agency owner Aris Lazaris, who helped co-ordinate the series’ shooting on the large island, which the locals call Mytilene, after the name of the capital city.

« We went from hell in the off-season, due to the repercussions of the economic crisis and cancellations of reservations by foreign tour operators, to our phones ringing off the hooks, » the Mytilene entrepreneur said. »

Source : SES Türkiye

« Tajiks ban Turkish dramas for being violent » – Hürriyet Daily News

« Authorities in the Central Asian nation of Tajikistan have banned several hugely popular Turkish television series over concerns that the violence in them could have a bad influence on viewers.

State film and video agency head Davlat Safarov said Wednesday that the shows in question contain what he described as elements of terrorism and extremism.

The Turkish shows, which are distributed locally on DVDs and are dubbed by well-known Tajik actors, have gained a huge following in Tajikistan over the past two years and are relatively tame melodramas by U.S. and Russian standards.

The move is unusual for this moderate Muslim former Soviet nation, but authorities have lately demonstrated deep concern over anything they deem to be a manifestation of radical Islamism. »

Source : Hürriyet Daily News

« Turkish stars Tatlıtuğ and Öden visit Dubai » – Hürriyet Daily News

Kıvanç Tatlıtuğ. Hürriyet Photo

« Kıvanç Tatlıtuğ and Songül Öden, leading actors of the series titled “Noor,” are visiting Dubai to promote the Istanbul Shopping Fest, which will take place between July 9 and 29 this year. This year’s festival will be the second ever festival.

Speaking at a press conference, manager Füsun Sönmez introduced the festival. Tatlıtuğ said he had been visiting Dubai for many years, and added that he was very happy to see the interest in Turkish soap operas in Dubai and the wider Middle East.

Tatlıtuğ said he was proud to present Turkey and was very happy to contribute to the representation of Turkey in other countries as an actor.

He added that he had received a number of film proposals from the Middle East and said, “if the scenario is good, I would like to play in one of the projects.”

Öden agreed that it was very important to see the interest in Turkish series’ in other countries, and said that it helped to keep the relations between two cultures. “We would like to be in front of the audience with better projects. I would like to be a part of an Arabic project.

”The presentation in Dubai was the first stop on the festival’s promotional tour, before the team travels on to Baku in Azerbaijan and Belgrade in Serbia. »

Source : Hürriyet Daily News

« Festival to remember Meral Okay » – Hürriyet Daily News

Meral Okay, who died of cancer in April 9, will be commemorated at the event. Source: Hürriyet

« The 15th Flying Broom International Women’s Film Festival started May 10 with a commemoration ceremony for Meral Okay, who died of cancer last month. The festival will continue until May 17 in Ankara.

The festival, supported by the Culture and Tourism Ministry, the Prime Ministry’s Promotional Fund and the European Union, was launched yesterday at a press conference. The Flying Broom Festival has been organized since 2003 in memory of Bilge Olgaç, one of the most creative directors in Turkish cinema history. This year’s Success Awards will be presented to actresses Füsun Demirel and Serra Yılmaz, and the Honorary Award will be given to actress Hale Soygazi.

The festival will present a selection of work from one of the leading names in Moroccan cinema, Farida Benlyazid, curated by Turkish film critic Sevin Okyay, and will bring together films from female directors from all around the world, with the goal of making the work of women filmmakers visible. « 

Source : Hürriyet Daily News

« TV star Beren Saat to leave Turkey as show draws to end » – Hürriyet Daily News

« Actress Beren Saat, one of the most popular names in Turkish T.V., is planing to go to the United States for a long vacation after the final episode of her current series « Fatmagül’ün suçu ne? » (What is Fatmagül’s Crime?), daily Hürriyet reported today.

Saat reportedly told her friends that she was tired of being in the public eye so much, and said this situation had made her desicide to leave for the U.S., according to report.

Popular singer Kenan Doğulu, Saat’s latest boyfriend, will supposedly keep her company during the six-month-planned vacation, during which they will stay together at Doğulu’s house in Los Angeles.

Doğulu and Saat have been together for a while, and their relationship is said to be very serious. Turkish dailies have written that Saat has even met Doğulu’s family. »

Source : Hürriyet Daily News

« Famous TV star Beren Saat, dream woman for Arab men » – Hürriyet Daily News

Beren aat is currently the most popular Turkish actress in the Arab world.

« The popularity of Turkish TV series is rising every day in Arabic-speaking countries, and Turkish actresses are often the main attraction in a series. Beren Saat, who plays the role of Bihter in “Aşk-ı Memnu” (Forbidden Love) and that of Fatmagül in “Fatmagül’ün suçu ne?” (What is Fatmagül’s fault?), is currently the most popular Turkish actress in the Arab world.

Saat has come to represent a sort of dream woman for Arab men, said a recent article in Al Bawaba daily, based in Jordan. There are about 300 fan pages on Facebook dedicated to Saat, and approximately 800,000 people have “liked” those pages. Messages to Beren Saat on Facebook mainly consist of compliments and messages of admiration. According to the Al Bawaba article, Arab men say of Saat “she is like an angel,” and that their only dream is to find someone as “pure” as she is. They also hate the character Mustafa, Saat’s character’s fiancé on “Fatmagül’ün suçu ne?”, and post angry messages about the character on Facebook. Some say they want a daughter like Saat. Arab women, on the other hand, tend to prefer Buğra Gülsoy, another actor appearing in “Fatmagül’ün suçu ne?”, comparing him to Brad Pitt.

Beren Saat is the Turkish person about whom the most articles are being written, according to the latest data released by the Media Tracking Center (MTM), with 4,472 articles in the media. Her popularity in the media stems mainly from her relationship with Kenan Doğulu, her latest boyfriend.

Doğulu is one of the most popular singers in Turkey and represented Turkey in Eurovision 2007 with his song “Shake it up Şekerim.” Doğulu and Saat have been together for a while, and their relationship is said to be very serious. Turkish dailies have written that Saat has met Doğulu’s family.

Actor Kıvanç Tatlıtuğ’s girlfriend Azra Akın was in second place on the MTM list. Akın’s popularity has risen since the couple made up last month and became the focus of marriage rumors. The rumors are still just rumors, though, and Tatlıtuğ has said: “If I were getting married tomorrow, I wouldn’t tell anyone.” »

Source : Hürriyet Daily News

« Famous show raises popularity of Turkey » – Hürriyet Daily News

TV series ‘A Thousand and One Nights’ raises interest in Turkish culture in Crotia. Hürriyet photo

« Thanks to Binbir Gece (A Thousand and One Nights) TV show, interest in Turkish culture has risen in Croatia. Some families have begun to name their sons Onur, the lead character in the series.

Students in Croatia are applying to Turcology departments at universities more, said the Turkish ambassador to Croatia, Burak Özügergin. “Each day more people apply to Turkish language courses in order to learn Turkish.”

As the series increases the popularity of Turkey, Özügergin said, Croatians’ interest in Turkey increases.

Both countries have benefitted from cultural relations, according Özügergin. Turkish tourists going to Zagreb increased.

Croatia has also discovered how much the two countries have in common, Zenith Services general manager Hidayet Çoklar said. Croatia may also rise as the new attraction in the Balkan countries.

Özügergin added that the relationship between the two countries has developed because of the cultural relations. There are many Turkish shows broadcasting in Croatia currently. “This increases the popularity of Turkey,” he said.

“The potential of Turkey in tourism is evident. However with these shows this popularity is raised,” he said. The series shows that Turkey is a young and dynamic country, according to Özügergin. The TV series also showcases beautiful parts of Turkey. Newspapers in Croatia are publishing recipes for Turkish food. »

Source : Hürriyet Daily News

« Assistant dies backstage at TV series » – Hürriyet Daily News

Art assistant, Selin Erdem, passes away.

A traffic accident on the backstage set of the television series “Arka Sıradakiler” left one employee dead and two others injured.

Selin Erden, an art team assistant, was standing outside with friends during a break in shooting when she was hit by a previously parked car.

The driver of the vehicle, İdris F. and another assistant, Özcan İleri, suffered minor injuries. An ambulance was called to the scene and took Erdem to the hospital where she died from her injuries.

Source : Hürriyet Daily News