« Turkish drama ends up in Sweden » – C21 Media

« A Swedish channel has acquired Turkish drama series The End (25×90′) from prodco Ay Yapim and distributor Eccho Rights.

Pubcaster SVT plan to air the series on SVT2 in an access primetime slot in January 2013 as a daily half-hour version. The show originally aired earlier this year on ATV in Turkey.

“We are to be the first major broadcaster in Western Europe to air a series from the vibrant Turkish television drama scene. The End is a great and different addition to our drama slate,” said Göran Danasten, head of fiction at SVT.

The series tells the story of a man who disappears after a plane crash. Eccho Rights is the distribution arm of newly merged Sparks Networks of Sweden and Eccho Media of Benelux.

The SVT sale continues the boom in Turkish drama exports, which have seen series from the Eurasian territory airing across the Balkans, often ousting US imports from schedules there. »

Source : C21 Media

« MBC finds drama in Turkey » – C21 Media

Ezel. Source : C21 Media

« Middle Eastern broadcaster MBC Group has boosted its drama slate with the acquisition of two Turkish dramas, including one based on The Count of Monte Cristo.

Crime drama Ezel, based on Alexander Dumas’ novel, follows the story of a man who seeks revenge when he is betrayed by his best friend and his girlfriend after a casino robbery goes wrong.

The series, produced by Ay Yapim, first aired in Turkey on Show TV in 2009 before transferring to ATV.

The second pick-up is Zaman Ki, a drama set in the 1960s that focuses on the fictional Akarsu family, which is torn apart when the father, a seaman, has an affair while abroad on a fishing trip.

It was an original Kanal D series produced by D Productions.

Both series, dubbed into Arabic, will launch on female-skewing MBC4 next month.

The channel also airs primetime US shows including Pretty Little Liars, Grey’s Anatomy, The Vampire Diaries, The Good Wife and medical talk series The Dr Oz Show, alongside other Turkish dramas and soaps. It is also preparing the launch the third season of Arabs Got Talent. »

Source : C21 Media

« Balkan, MENA sales for Kanal D » – C21 Media

« Broadcasters in the Middle East and the Balkans have acquired Turkish drama Kuzey Guney from broadcaster Kanal D.

The soap, created and written by Ece Yörenç and Melek Gençoglu and produced by prodco Ay Yapim, has been acquired by UAE-based regional satcaster Dubai TV and RTV Pink in Serbia. An Iranian distributor has also bagged the show.

The 40×90′ series, which debuted in Turkey last September, follows two brothers who love the same woman. Dogan Media-owned Kanal D’s sales division describes the show as Turkey’s “most popular TV series of this year.”

Another Serbian channel, Prva TV, has also acquired drama Leaf Cast (174×90′), while a French distributor picked up Turkan for French-speaking markets. A distributor in Kazakhstan also bought drama series A Night in June.

The deals continue the recent upswing in demand for Turkish drama around Central and Eastern Europe and the Middle East. In the US, NBC recently acquired the format to Forbidden Love for its Hispanic channel Telemundo.

Kanal D has also unveiled its next big drama for the international market, Kotu Yol, which tells the story of a girl who runs away to be a movie star and find herself in the middle of a love triangle. It debut in Turkey last week. »

Source : C21 Media

Author : Ed Waller

« ATV delves into Mid East history » – C21 Media

« Turkish broadcaster ATV is preparing to air a new historical drama described as the largest production ever to be made in the Middle East.

Omar Ibn Al Khattab (31×60′), coproduced by MBC Group and Qatar TV, charts the life of Khalifeh Omar Ibn Al Khattab and the Islamic empire he built.

ATV acquired the finished programme, which will be dubbed for Turkish viewers.

Fadi Ismail, general manager of MBC Group’s O3 Productions, said: “ATV has shown interest in the series ever since the idea developed, continuing as production started, until they finally gained the broadcasting rights to air the series dubbed in Turkish.”

Mutlu Inan, deputy general manager of ATV, added: “As a Muslim country, Turkey has an appetite for historical series chronicling the lives of our great Islamic leaders. The series Omar has set a perfect example for this kind of programming.”

He predicted a “spectacular performance” during Ramadan this year.

When it was first announced in September 2010, the drama was described by MBC Group chairman Sheikh Waleed Al Ibrahim as the biggest historical TV drama production ever to be made in the region. »

Source : C21 Media

Author : Michael Pickard

 

« Turkish drama makes for MENA » – C21 Media

NATPE: Buyers from the Middle East have been shopping for historical drama programming from Turkey’s national public broadcaster TRT.

UAE-based Dubai Media Corporation (DMC) has picked up rights to Once Upon a Time: Ottoman Empire Mutiny for the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), following a deal with TRT Sales.

The 13×90′ series, produced by Hersey Film, aired to high ratings this year and TRT1 has already ordered a second season. DMC operates Dubai TV, which airs across MENA via satellite and other platforms.

Another UAE-based regional broadcaster, MBC, has also taken a TRT drama, 2011′s Ahmet the Cook’s Aide (20×35′). This show is also set in the Ottoman era and was produced for TRT by Okur Film.

Speaking to C21 at Natpe Budapest, Meltem Tumturk Akyol, head of international sales at TRT, said the two shows would start airing across MENA from next month. The deals mark the first international sales for both series.

TRT is riding a wave of interest in Turkish drama in MENA and Central and Eastern Europe. That trend started after Kanal D drama Ezel became a major hit on another Middle Eastern channel, Abu Dhabi TV, in 2010.

Source : C21 Media

« Turner goes cold on TNT Turkey » – C21 Media

By Michael Pickard

International channel operator Turner Broadcasting System (TBS) has said it remains committed to Turkey, despite closing its TNT channel there.

TBS has confirmed it will cease business operations of TNT Turkey “with immediate effect,” though the channel will continue broadcasting until further notice. A message posted on the channel’s website informs viewers it will air a temporary schedule until it is taken off air.

“TNT Turkey has not performed and grown according to the business plan,” a statement from TBS said. “This led to a thorough business review, which concluded with this carefully considered decision.”

TNT Turkey launched in 2008 as a movie-based network and it was relaunched last year as a general entertainment channel. Following the closure, Time Warner-owned TBS said it is offering “the maximum support possible” to employees affected by the closure.

However, TBS-operated Cartoon Network and news channel CNN Turk will continue to operate as usual.

TBS added it remains committed to future investment in Turkey and its relationship with Dogan TV, with which it launched TNT in 2008 and CNN Turk in 1999. “Turner will continue to explore expansion opportunities in this important market,” the statement concluded.

Source : C21 Media

« Star turn » – C21 media


Cem Aydin. Source : C21 Media

« Following its purchase of Star TV last year, Turkey’s Dogus Media Group is focusing on rebuilding the mainstream channel with original and international productions. CEO Cem Aydin spoke to Michael Pickard.

When its plans to add a home-grown mainstream network to its portfolio of thematic channels were stifled by the economic crisis in 2009, Turkey’s Dogus Media Group was forced to put its ambitions on hold.

Its desire to expand remained, however, and the group moved its focus from launching a network to acquiring an existing one. In line with this new strategy, in October 2011, Dogus paid Turkish conglomerate Dogan Media Group US$327m for its entertainment network Star TV.

Dogan originally bought Star for US$306.5m in 2005 after previous owner Uzan Media folded in 2003 with debts of US$6bn. Star joined Dogus’s stable of seven other channels, which run alongside websites, radio stations, magazines and a publishing imprint. The business is part of the wider Dogus Group of 122 companies, operating in sectors as diverse as banking, construction, real estate and energy.

Explaining the Star purchase, Cem Aydin, CEO of Dogus Media Group, says the firm had become a “pioneer” in thematic channels and wanted to try its hand in a “new and more competitive market” – mainstream TV.

“We worked on a project named TV-en for almost two years,” he says. “But unfortunately, due to the financial turmoil, the project was postponed for an indefinite period. In 2011, when new advertising opportunities arose for mainstream channels, this was the right time to take a project from the rack. Turkey’s first private TV channel, Star TV, was on sale and so rather than building a TV channel from scratch we decided to rebuild Star TV.”

Dogus Media Group was founded in 1999 with the acquisition of NTV, Turkey’s first 24-hour news channel, which had launched in 1996. Business and entertainment channel CNBC-e debuted in 2000 while sports net NTV Spor, music channels Kral TV and Kral Pop, Hindi news net HDe and entertainment net e2 completed the line-up until Star was added last year.

Dogus wasn’t the only company affected by the economic crash, as the entire Turkish media industry faced cuts after a period of expansion, but Aydin says the country’s recovery is now gathering pace. “We were affected but the recovery process has been fast,” he says. “We expect the ad market to grow by 20.4% in 2012 and bring fresh blood to the media industry in general. We aim to increase our ad share in the market until 2013 and keep it around 11.2% afterwards. Obviously, TV still occupies the largest portion of ad share and the acquisition of Star TV has enabled us to double our market share projections for the next three years.”

Advertising sales have also been impacted by the collapse of the Turkish ratings system, which was abandoned last year amid allegations the personal details of some panelists were leaked, which potentially left them open to bribes to change their viewing habits.

A new ratings system will launch in May, but Aydin says: “We’re in limbo right now. This is not good for the sector. Advertisers need measured metrics; they want to see who they reach. And the ad price is also determined through ratings of the time slot. We broadcasters need the metrics to see how our shows are doing and also to talk to the advertisers.”

Despite some signs of economic growth, Dogus does not intend to venture back into acquisitions, as Aydin says picking up new networks is “not a priority for us right now. Improving Star TV, according to our goals and vision, ranks higher on our agenda and we need to concentrate on this objective,” he says.

In terms of content, Dogus’s networks have found success with both home-grown and imported shows. On CNBC-e, worldwide hits including the BBC’s Merlin and Doctor Who, US network CBS’s comedy How I Met Your Mother, Starz original series Spartacus: Blood & Sand and HBO’s Game of Thrones have won strong audiences, while NTV’s documentary hour on Sundays and local news show Close Up are also popular.

Meanwhile, e2 has a slate of international productions including HBO’s Treme and BBC comedy Come Fly With Me, as well as US talkshows such as The Ellen Show, The Conan O’Brien Show and The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.

At Star, Ottoman Empire drama Magnificent Century (Muhtesem Yuzyil), made by TIMS Productions, was acquired from rival Show TV, in part to highlight the takeover completed by Dogus, and viewers have followed. “We obviously treated this transfer as a launch tool to attract attention to the change taking place at Star,” says Aydin. “It is doing very well since the story is quite appealing and tragic and it has a loyal audience. But Star will create its own productions soon enough.

“For the past three or four years, historical series have been on the rise, occupying a serious position in the entertainment world and attracting significant attention to certain periods of history. We believe this trend will continue for a few more years as there is quite a lot of historical material that can be used.”

Other popular shows airing on Star include Iffet, a drama about a woman who is betrayed by her lover; and One Man, One Woman (Bir Erkek, Bir Kadin), the Turkish adaptation of Canadian comedy series Un Gars, Une Fille.

Gameshows are also finding viewers and Star airs a version of Israeli format Still Standing, under the title Eyvah Dusuyorum, which is produced by Endemol Turkey. The channel is also prepping a Turkish version of US classic Jeopardy!. “In terms of primetime series, locally originated productions have been dominant until recently,” says Aydin.

One notable exception to this is Kanal D’s remake of long-running US drama Desperate Housewives, which is running as Umutsuz Ev Kadinlari, produced by Medyapim.

“We are always looking to acquire successful international content,” says Aydin. “Adapting scripts is a rising trend but it is quite difficult to find stories that fit the local culture. Producing original dramas will still be the priority of the sector.”

The number of programmes exported from Turkey is also on the rise, as shown by Magnificent Century’s roll-out into more than 40 territories worldwide by distributor Global Agency. “Turkish series have become quite popular abroad, especially in the Middle East. It is to such an extent that the popularity of these series has boosted interest in Turkey, creating a new line of tourism. It is an exciting but understandable development, given the proximity of the cultures.

“This growth will continue as long as series dominate the primetime hour. But will this spread to other regions? The answer to this lies in shortening the duration, the variety and the production quality of the projects,” explains Aydin.

“Primetime is dominated by Turkish series that run for three hours, with ad slots. A show that runs for almost three hours every week has the possibility of falling into a vicious circle and, currently, the Turkish television industry is suffering from this fatigue. It is having a negative effect, because in order to fill that time space, the stories become longer than usual and lose their dramatic effect.”

As Dogus has bought into Turkey’s mainstream television market with its acquisition of Star, so too have international broadcasters, which are looking to exploit one of the fastest growing TV markets in the world.

Discovery, National Geographic and Disney all have a presence in the country, and while not directly competing against Dogus’s stable of channels, their presence is a sign of the value of the market to foreign broadcasters.

However, Aydin says this competition is not something local networks have to fear, but is something they should embrace. “NTV has been the pioneer of news channels in Turkey by positioning itself as ‘the news channel of Turkey.’ But recently we have had international companies entering the scene, such as Al Jazeera,” says Aydin. “The existence of such competitors in the market is valuable and beneficial to raise standards. The same is also true for players like TNT and Fox in the entertainment world. Such international companies spice up the course of Turkish media.”

Since officially relaunching Star in January after completing the acquisition, Dogus is now preparing for a “second launch” this fall as the growth of the channel forms the focal point of the media group’s ambitions for the immediate future. Part of this plan is to follow the changing audience landscape in Turkey and, in particular, how younger viewers are taking their viewing habits online.

However, Aydin says traditional TV is still the main medium. “The most significant change in Turkey has been witnessed with the expansion of new media, with the mass penetration of internet into households,” he says. “Nevertheless, television is still the main source of information and entertainment.

“Turkish television is quite up to date with what happens in the international arena. The younger audience, on the other hand, is following TV online and has created its own digital entertainment world. We strive to create content that appeals to these youngsters as their habits will be determining the trends of the next few years.” »

Source : C21 media

« Turkey takes off » – C21 Media


by Andrew Mc Donald

« Turkey’s expanding TV business is attracting plenty of international attention thanks to the strength of its drama programming and advertising market. Andrew McDonald reports, as Discop Istanbul gets into gear.

Turkey’s TV content market has evolved dramatically in the past decade and a half. Once home to a high number of foreign imports, including Latin American telenovelas, Turkey has since developed a rich drama industry of its own that now accounts for the bulk of the main terrestrial broadcasters’ primetime output.

Though international unscripted formats such as Who Wants to be a Millionaire? and Pop Idol have found homes in Turkish schedules, it is big-budget, weekly home-grown dramas that are demanding the most investment and winning the biggest ratings.

They are also gaining the attention of schedulers outside the country, thanks to their high production values. Turkish content is already notching up sales in Eastern Europe, the Baltic states, the Middle East and parts of Asia, and is even starting to find audiences further afield.

“Turkey is not a great market for formats,” admits Izzet Pinto, founder and president of Turkish distribution house Global Agency. “Formats were doing very well, but now most are being commissioned for just one season and the reason is that in primetime people prefer to watch drama series. Therefore, local scripted productions dominate.”

Ziyad Varol, deputy content sales manager at ATV, one of Turkey’s biggest broadcasters, agrees. “In terms of primetime slots, drama is definitely the number one content type. If you look at ATV’s programmes you’ll see that in seven days you will definitely have scripted TV series on five or six days, mainly dramas but also sitcoms,” he says. The channel’s scheduling is done with a close eye on what rival broadcasters are doing on any given day – particularly Turkey’s number one terrestrial network Kanal D, he adds. 

Even Who Wants to be a Millionaire?, which Varol claims has been “doing really well” for ATV over the past six months, only finds a home in the ‘primetime-3’ slot of 23.00. Earlier primetime-1 and primetime-2 slots – 20.00-22.00 and 22.00-23.00 respectively – are given over to scripted content. Is there much room for unscripted formats in Turkey?

“Gameshows and other entertainment shows get limited space on Turkish TV, so we can’t say the situation is better at the moment; it has always been like that,” says Idil Belli, general manager of Sera Films. The Turkish distributor sells format rights to Who Wants to be a Millionaire? and Dragons’ Den in the country, thanks to a local distribution pact with Sony Pictures Television.

While Millionaire has found a home on ATV, Dragons’ Den airs on Bloomberg HT, a niche Turkish news channel created in 2010 thanks to a deal between local station Kanal1 and Bloomberg. Though the network airs another Sera-distributed gameshow, called Think, in an evening slot, Bloomberg HT head of acquisitions Aylin Amber admits these shows cannot challenge Turkey’s mainstream drama output.

“Even though it’s the minority of the audience, there are a lot of people who prefer to watch a gameshow instead of watching a local series, so it’s a perfect alternative. But we definitely can’t compete with them, because from the time we were measured, I know that 80% or 90% of the audience is watching local series,” she says.

Ansi Elgoz, MD of Endemol Turkey, also concedes that “broadcasters have very limited space for non-scripted formats.” Endemol Turkey was set up in 2008 to produce local versions of formats such as Total Wipeout, Fear Factor, The Money Drop and Deal or No Deal, and though Endemol does also deal internationally in drama output, even imported scripted formats have a hard time competing with home-grown shows, Elgoz says.

“At the moment, there are about 65 to 70 drama series this season on air in the Turkish TV landscape – a huge number. Of these, only one is adapted: Desperate Housewives. All the other scripted concepts are locally developed, so if you look at the ratio, adaptations in Turkey are always more difficult,” she says.

Though Turkey is not a closed shop when it comes to overseas drama, the popularity of home-sourced stories is clear. Kerim Emrah Turna, international sales and acquisitions specialist at Kanal D, says his channel’s version of Desperate Housewives is doing well in its Sunday 20.00 slot. However, the channel’s big project for this year is a locally developed drama called Kuzey Guney (North & South), which airs in the equivalent Wednesday night slot.

Elsewhere, Endemol Turkey partnered with Argentinian network Telefe to adapt primetime daily telenovela The Successful Mr & Mrs Pells as a weekly drama for the Kanal D. Yet despite other adaptations of the format in Poland and Chile, the show, called Mükemmel Çift (Perfect Couple) in Turkey, didn’t make it past one season. Similarly, ATV’s remake of Chilean network TVN’s popular telenovela Donde Esta Elisa? ended last year after one 26-episode run.

It is yet to be seen how well Fox TV’s new scripted sitcom Young Enough will do. The Turkish channel, which was rebranded from TGRT after News Corp acquired it in 2006, bought the remake rights to the show from Sera Films, which licensed it from Mediaset. In Italy, the show is known as Casa Vianello.

The reason why locally developed projects seem to fare so much better is partly cultural and partly down to the practicalities of making a series for the distinct Turkish market. Global Agency’s Pinto notes that due to Turkish regulations, nudity and sex are not shown, which made the country’s version of Big Brother markedly different from some of the format’s racier European versions, and would effectively rule out an adaptation of popular Western shows like Sex & the City. 

In addition, Turkish primetime dramas tend to run to 90 or 100 minutes per episode, while US dramas average out at around 45 minutes, making it difficult to adapt a series without substantial re-writes.

“You take the concept but to make it longer you have to write another episode. Or you have to put two episodes together, which doesn’t make sense, because an episode has its own development, climax point and conclusion. So it’s very difficult to expand a 45-minute concept into a 90-minute drama per week. Instead of trying to adapt it, you might as well re-write it,” says Elagoz.

Turna says the reason why Turkey tends towards longer episodes is to do with regulations that limit ad breaks to 12 minutes in every hour. This is in line with European legislation, which Turkey has adopted voluntarily despite not being a part of the EU. “To get a bigger part of the advertisement pie, channels are demanding 90-minute episodes from the producers in order to have a couple more primetime advertisement slots during the programme,” he says.

By the same logic, you might then expect Turkish dramas to be equally hard to sell abroad due to episode length. Yet this does not seem to be the case. Indeed, ad gains along with rivalry in the Turkish market are helping to drive up production values, which in turn is making Turkish drama more appealing to international buyers.

“Since there’s huge competition between the Turkish broadcasters, they invest more and more in the production quality in order to get a bigger slice of the advertisement market in Turkey. So that’s why the production quality is increasing day-to-day in Turkey. We believe that in the very near future, we will cover nearly all the world with these productions,” says Can Okan, president, CEO and co-founder of Istanbul-based distributor ITV Inter Medya. 

Okan claims that in the past couple of years production budgets in Turkey have doubled, with some period dramas costing US$750,000 per episode. Over at Kanal D, Turna agrees: “We are spending incredible amounts of money when we begin the shows. For example, for Öyle Bir Geçer Zaman ki (Time Goes By), just for the first two episodes we spent more than €1m [US$1.3m]. But the market is very competitive.”

Time Goes By is now in its second season and hit a peak 71% share during one airing last year. It’s a key title for Kanal D’s sales division, while Turna says that in many territories, 90-minute Turkish drama episodes are shown in their entirety or stripped as two 45-minute episodes 

“In Eastern Europe – for example, Greece, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Serbia, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Albania, Kosovo, Slovakia – all of these countries are airing lots of Turkish drama series,” he says, adding that Kanal D drama Gümüs hit an episode peak of 85 million Arab viewers after it was sold to MBC in the Middle East – a record for the region, he says.

Elsewhere, ATV drama Ezel has already been distributed to more than 40 countries and was the most watched programme in Hungary last year, according to Varol. Remake rights to the show have also been sold into a handful of countries, including Belgium, with talks underway with a US broadcaster.

“This proves that Turkish drama is also suitable for other territories,” says Varol. “If you look at the territories where we have mostly sold our titles, they are in the Middle East, the Balkans and, to some extent, Eastern Europe – ex-Soviet countries as well – and we have started to expand our presence to African territories.”

Executives representing ITV Inter Medya, Global Agency and Turkish broadcaster TRT were at Natpe in Miami in January to try to open up sales into Latin America – reversing what was once an established trend in the Turkish market.

“Telenovelas were incredibly popular 10 or 15 years ago. When I was younger our whole family used to watch Latin telenovelas during daytime and also in some primetime slots. At that time we only had one or two Turkish drama series, but for a very long time we haven’t aired any telenovelas on the mainstream Turkish TV channels,” says Turna.

Pinto, who is currently shopping a number of Turkish daytime entertainment formats along with drama series such as Magnificent Century and 1001 Nights, adds that these days the stories being told by Turkish drama series are “absolutely different” from Lat Am novelas.

“There is huge television activity in Turkey,” adds Patrick Jucaud-Zuchowicki, general manager of Basic Lead and the man behind Discop Istanbul, which has its second outing this week. “Over the past three years we’ve seen Turkish drama producers expand their reach beyond the Turkish marketplace. They sell drama series into the Middle East, into Central Asia, the Balkans, even into Latin America, so Turkish content has a strong attraction and that is something that has helped us establish our market.”

The success of Turkish drama is also helping to reshape the domestic market and stimulate competition. After setting up shop in Turkey four years ago, Endemol recently appointed ATV’s former head of drama Hulya Vural to head a new drama division, to create its own locally developed scripted content. 

The major broadcasters are also stepping up their in-house production efforts, increasing competition with established Turkish producers like Ay Yapim. At ATV, Varol explains that though the network makes magazine shows and some studio content in-house, it doesn’t have a drama production unit. However, he says it has plans to set up a production arm, probably in the next three to five years.

“We see the potential,” says Varol, claiming that to keep international rights to shows “you need to be very strong or you need to produce the content by yourself.”

Meanwhile, major Western players are also showing interest in the Turkish market, due to its impressive growth and promising forecasts in the TV advertising space – particularly against the backdrop of a wider European downturn and poor returns from many Eastern European markets.

Though the main five Turkish broadcasters, with the exception of Fox, are still owned by Turkish firms, Kanal D reportedly attracted interest from RTL, Time Warner, News Corp and investment group Texas Pacific Group when the network’s parent, Dogan Holding, sought advice on a possible sale in 2010. 

The same parties were also recently linked to ATV when it put itself up for sale at the beginning of the year, with the main terrestrial broadcasters a seemingly logical target for Western players hoping to break into this market, due to the concentration of ad revenues among these channels

“Turkish cable and satellite channels have a fundamental structural problem. We see an increasing audience share, but they are not able to monetise it because a lot of them they are fragmented and advertisers have relationships with the big broadcasters and get a fair amount of discounts there,” says IHS’s head of advertising research Daniel Knapp.

However, he believes the rewards that the Turkish market can yield for outside investors are clear. “Recent years have shown that the Turkish TV market is an opportunity too good to miss,” he says. “In 2010, the ad market grew by 40%. For 2011, we project it to grow by 22% in net terms, which is phenomenal. We don’t see this growth anywhere else.

“Whereas all the other markets are going to be fairly static, fairly low growth – in the UK going from €4bn in 2011 to €4.4bn in 2015 – Turkey will go from €1bn to €2bn in the same timeframe, so doubling the size of the TV ad market.” he adds, claiming that Turkey, along with Russia, will be the key European markets to watch over the next few years. »

Source : C21 Media

« Greek TV must ‘coproduce to survive' » – C21 Media

« Greek producers must look to international coproductions if they are to get through the country’s growing financial crisis, according to a producer at 2k Films.

The government is currently imposing stringent austerity measures while the European Union discusses a second financial bail out for Greece’s struggling economy.

George Kalomenopoulos, a producer at Athens-based 2k Films, explained to C21 the impact of the crisis on the country’s television industry.

“It started about 18 months ago with major budget cutting from the broadcasters and a lot of series were suddenly interrupted,” he said. “The Antenna channels cancelled six or seven productions.

“Now the local industry is suffering from imports – especially soap operas from Turkey, instead of Greek soap operas – because it is cheaper to import than to produce your own. They are doing very well in the ratings.”

Kalomenopoulos said the only way local indies can survive now is to coproduce with foreign partners who can then sell the product to their own local broadcasters as well. 2k has recently worked with Franco-German cultural channel Arte, plus German and French producers.

He added: “We are focusing on coproductions to split the cost. We were always very active in this field but are now even more. The coproducer helps us to sell and negotiate with foreign broadcasters rather than Greek.

“They say this will last until 2020, and they are the optimists. The key is coproduction and to focus on our own strengths.” »

Source : C21 Media

« ATV sale hangs in the balance » – C21 media

« Low bids could scupper the sale of Turkish broadcaster ATV, media insiders in the country have warned, as Time Warner, News Corp and investment group Texas Pacific Group emerge as front-runners

An ATV source told C21 the station’s owner, Calik Holding, is thought to be seeking 12 to 15 times EBITDA for its ATV-Saba holdings, which includes the ATV channel, as well as newspaper and magazine assets.

With EBITDA at US$85m, this would result in an asking price of up to US$1.28bn. However, News Corp, Time Warner and TPG have so far tabled bids of up to around US$1bn for the Turkish asset, Reuters reported earlier this week.

“In my opinion, the bids that they submitted are below the expectations of the sellers. So I think there’s a chance that they might decide not to sell after all. They might just want to raise the value of their company for different reasons and see who’s interested,” said Endemol Turkey MD Ansi Elagoz.

Calik bought the ATV-Sabah holdings for US$1.1bn in 2007, though the firm is now understood to have hired Goldman Sachs to handle a sale.

An ATV source told C21 that the asset was definitely up for sale with initial bids entered last week. Negotiations could now run into the summer, the source said, though separate reports suggest the process may conclude by the end of the month.

RTL, which was also rumoured to be interested in buying the asset, is not thought to have tabled an offer.

News Corp already owns Turkish terrestrial channel Fox TV and in 2010 sold its Bulgarian TV business bTV to Central European Media Enterprises for US$400m. Time Warner and TPG were reported to have bid for Turkish conglomerate Dogan Holding’s Kanal D and Star TV assets last year, though neither reached an agreement.

IHS’s head of advertising research Daniel Knapp said that Turkey is attracting foreign interest as it, along with Russia, is a key growth market: “Recent years have shown that the Turkish TV market is an opportunity too good to miss. In 2010 the ad market grew by 40%. In 2011 we project it to grow by 22% in net terms, which is phenomenal. We don’t see this growth anywhere else.”

Yadigar Belbuken, deputy general manager and head programming at Fox International Channels Turkey, would not comment on News Corp’s apparent interest in ATV, but said: “There seems to be room to grow and I suspect there will be more international groups launching new channels or investing in the market, such as in ATV.” »

Source : C21 media

« Endemol Turkey launches drama unit » – C21 Media

« Endemol Turkey has set up a drama unit and has appointed an executive from one of the country’s biggest free-to-air broadcasters to head it.

Hulya Vural, who was head of drama at ATV and previously held the same post at Turkey’s Star network, started in the newly created head of drama role at Endemol Turkey in January.

The company now aims to launch a drama project in the next 12 months, as it aims to cash in on the country’s booming scripted market, Endemol Turkey MD Ansi Elagoz told C21.

“Turkish dramas are selling everywhere as ready-mades right now. Magnificent Century sold to over 60 countries as a ready-made, but our aim is not to only look for ready-mades but also formats,” said Elagoz, referring to the TIMS Productions-made Turkish hit.

“Endemol Italy, Endemol Spain, Endemol Netherlands, Endemol UK are very strong in drama, because the trend all around the world is tending towards it, so as a company we take it very seriously.

“Once you make a big hit, then you’re set for life with drama, whereas with formats, in the competitive markets, you have to work harder in my opinion to sell them and be successful.”

Endemol Turkey has previously experimented with local drama, adapting an Argentinian series called The Successful Mr and Mrs Pells for the local market.

Though this ran for only one season on Kanal D, Elagoz said the adaptation confirmed the need for Endemol Turkey to make a push into the local scripted space, “because that’s what drives the market.”

Endemol is responsible for dramas such as Hell on Wheels and Secret Diary of a Call Girl, which was recently picked up by Chilean public broadcaster TVN for a Latin American remake. However, the firm is best known for entertainment formats such as Big Brother, Total Wipeout, Deal or No Deal and Fear Factor. »

Source : C21 Media

« Talking Turkey » – C21 Media

« Costume drama Magnificent Century is racking up international sales for distributor Global Agency as Turkish series make their mark in Central and Eastern Europe, reports Michael Pickard.

When Russian broadcast group CTC Media announced its third-quarter financial results this month, hidden among the figures was some positive news for Kazakhstan’s Channel 31.

In the past three months, the channel recorded an all-time high average quarterly audience of 17.7%, strengthening its position as the second most-watched channel in the country. Viewing figures rose from 11.4% in Q3 2010 – a 55% year-on-year increase.

Anton Kudryashov, CTC Media’s CEO, said: “Growth in CTC Media’s other markets continue to exceed expectations, mainly due to a substantial increase in the average target audience shares of Channel 31 in Kazakhstan and the dynamic growth in scale and reach of CTC International and our new media activities.” Channel 31′s performance was put down to three factors: local productions, a strong movie line-up and the success of Turkish primetime series in its schedule.

RTL Televizija in Croatia has also made a mark with Turkish drama. The popularity of TMC Film’s Binbir Gece (1,001 Nights), first shown on Kanal D, and crime drama Ezel, produced by Ay Yapim for diginet Show TV, helped spur the network to commission its first original weekly drama. The Windrose, produced by FremantleMedia’s Croatian unit, is currently on air.

One reason for the success of Turkish scripted series in Croatia and Kazakhstan has been the audiences’ ability to relate to the culture and traditions they portray – which they are less likely to do with shows from the US, for example. This trend has sent another Turkish drama series, Ottoman Empire-set Magnificent Century, into almost a dozen countries worldwide since Istanbul-based distributor Global Agency began shopping it earlier this year.

The series follows the reign of Sultan Suleiman, who ruled for 46 years during the 16th century, and his attempt to make the Ottomans invincible. The drama was given massive promotion at Discop Budapest in June, while characters from the show could also be spotted walking around the Palais de Festivals in Cannes during Mipcom.

The show, from TIMS Productions, is in its second season on Turkey’s Show TV. However, in January it will transfer mid-season to another free-to-air channel, Star TV, following the latter’s takeover by Dogus Group, owner of the Turkish version of CNBC.

Internationally, the first season has been picked up by Prva for transmission in Serbia and Montenegro, and by Kanal 5 in Macedonia. Viewers can also watch the series in Russia (Domashny), Azerbaijan (Lider TV), Slovakia (Markiza), the Czech Republic (Barrandov), Romania (Kanal D), Kazakhstan (Khabar) and Albania (Albanian Screen), while Dubai TV will air it in 22 Arab-speaking countries.

Magnificent Century had a pre-production budget of €3.5m (US$4.7m), while €2m was spent on sets and costumes alone.

, CEO of Global Agency, says: “Magnificent Century represents the first time a series made in Turkey has been given an international release.

“When we launched it at MipTV earlier this year, we felt it would sell to a number of territories because not only is the story interesting but it’s a very expensive production from Turkey and has international quality. It’s been so popular because it’s based on a true story. It’s mostly about intrigue in the palace. They are all true events in history. It has even been sold to Romania, which is a very difficult market to enter and has never acquired a Turkish show before.” The success of Magnificent Century demonstrates the high production values now instilled in Turkish scripted series, Pinto says.

However, while more dramas will be coming out of the country, they will not be limited to historical costume series, Pinto adds. “Turkey has really good-quality shows nowadays,” says Pinto. “They’re a great alternative to Latin American series and are being shown in primetime. Our goal is to sell Magnificent Century to 40 territories by the end of 2012.”

The show was originally commissioned for a two-season run, though a third is believed to be in the planning stages. “It might have a third season but I don’t think more than that,” adds Pinto. “The series is based on true events, so after three years we will have the finale.

“Turkish drama is getting very popular, especially in Central and Eastern Europe. Binbir Gece was also very popular. It’s expensive (for such countries) to produce their own shows and this is better to buy and dub. It’s perfect for primetime. This is the first big-budget series that’s been bought by so many countries. In Turkey, people feel proud about this because, finally, Turkey is part of the international entertainment business.”

There’s no doubt that Turkish drama is making its international mark, as the sales of Magnificent Century show. However, it remains to be seen whether this series will break out of Eastern Europe and on to Western screens, though that is certainly Pinto’s ambition. And if US networks can buy scripted formats from Israel and Colombia to adapt locally, why not Turkey? »

Source : C21 Media

« Sultans series swings more sales » – C21 media

« Turkish distributor Global Agency has racked up more sales of Ottoman Empire drama Magnificent Century, as details emerge of a similar series in development in the US.

The TIMS Productions show is about Suleiman the Magnificent, ruler of the Ottoman Empire at the height of its glory in the 16th century.

The first season of the show, which is now in its second season in Turkey, has been picked up by Prva for transmission in Serbia and Montenegro, and by Kanal 5 in Macedonia.

Viewers will also be able to watch the series in Russia (Domashny), Azerbaijan (Lider TV), Slovakia (Markiza), Czech Republic (Barrandov), Romania (Kanal D), Kazakhstan (Khabar) and Albania (Albanian Screen), while Dubai TV will air it in 22 Arab-speaking countries.

Many territories are due to launch the show simultaneously on December 21, said Global Agency CEO Izzet Pinto.

Magnificent Century airs on free-to-air Show TV in Turkey, though it will transfer mid-season to rival Star TV in January, following the latter’s takeover by Dogus, the owner of the Turkish version of CNBC.

The latest Magnificent Century sales come as it emerged that US cablenet Starz and BBC Worldwide Productions (BBCWW) are developing Harem, a six-hour series about Suleiman the Magnificent and the rise and fall of the Ottoman Empire, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Ann Peacock, who wrote The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, is said to be penning the series, about a slave girl who marries the Sultan.

Harem would become the second coproduction between Starz and BBCWW Productions since a deal was signed following their collaboration on Torchwood: Miracle Day. They are also working together on historical fantasy Da Vinci’s Demons, an eight-parter due to begin production in early 2012.

Speaking about Harem, Pinto told C21: “I would be very happy if such a thing would be made because it would create more knowledge and interest in the subject. It would be an advantage, not a disadvantage.”

A BBCWW representative said: “We have various titles in stages of development, none of which are at a stage we’re prepared to discuss. Not every project between Starz and BBC Worldwide Productions falls under the overall deal recently announced.” »

Source : C21 media

« Dogan offloads Star TV » – C21 media

« Turkish conglom Dogan Media Group has sold entertainment network Star TV to a rival for US$327m.

Dogus Yayin Holdings will take on 99.9% of the channel, which broadcasts entertainment formats, dramas and sport and was Turkey’s first private TV network, subject to local competition clearance.

It will pay Dogan subsidiary Isil Television Broadcasting an initial US$151m, with the outstanding US$176m paid off in instalments over the next two years, according to a filing to the Istanbul Stock Exchange this week.

Dogan originally bought Star for US$306.5m six years ago at a keenly contested auction after previous owner Uzan Media folded in 2003 under the weight of its US$6bn debts.

But it has recently been struggling to cover a multibillion-dollar bill relating to fines, taxes and interest imposed by government, which some commentators have claimed could be politically motivated.

It was forced to sell off Star after failing to comply with new laws prohibiting any one media firm from controlling more than 30% of the advertising market.

Others Dogan assets, including daily newspapers, have already been shed. Kanal D was also on the block but reports today suggest the Star deal may end the sales process.

Meanwhile, Dogus rivals Dogan in terms of scale but its 123 companies are spread across the media, finance, automotive, tourism, real estate, construction and energy industries.

Media arm Dogus Media Group owns news net NTV and has struck partnerships with National Geographic, CNBC and Condé Nast and has more than 1,100 employees. »

Source : C21 media