« 100 million dollars brought in from sending turkish shows abroad » – Sabah

« The exporting of Turkish television series to the Middle East and Eastern Europe, which have resulted in the soaring popularity Turkish brands, continues at full-force. Bringing in 100 million dollars in exports this year alone, television shows from Turkey are now selling at higher prices than famous U.S. television series.

According to Customs and Trade Minister Hayati Yazıcı, the peaked interest in Turkish television shows abroad has resulted in turning all eyes on this fast growing sector in Turkey. According to Minister Yazıcı, while statistics show that throughout the globe audio-visual exports saw a 4.54 percent growth on average, in Turkey this year the same figure came to 25.98 percent. Turkish shows are taking the monopoly of prime time spots in a wide variety of locations throughout the Balkans, the Middle East and Central Asia.

Turkey’s entertainment sector has been exporting for five years now. Up until just two years ago, Turkey’s entrance in the market was based on a low-price policy, however now some of the nation’s most popular productions are selling for higher than popular U.S. shows such as Mad Men.

İzzet Pinto, CEO of Global Agency is one of the most prominent businessmen selling Turkish television shows all over the world. According to Pinto, Turkey’s popular sprung to life with television shows such as Bir İstanbul Masalı (An Istanbul Tale), 1001 Gece (1,001 Nights) and Gümüş (Silver). « Today, 100 television stations are being exported to 60 countries. This sector results in bringing in 100 million dollars in foreign currency, » states Pinto.

While Turkish shows are already topping the popularity charts in Middle Eastern and Balkan nations, Turkey now intends to dominate the Western European market. İzzet Pinto explains that they are currently launching in France and if they see success they will go ahead and enter nations such as Italy and Spain.

Western interest in Turkish show

The wind of Turkish shows, which undoubtedly blows strongest in the Gulf nations, has now made its way to the Western European segment, which symbolizes strong economy and high social life standards. For the first time ever, a Turkish television show will soon be released on a Swedish state-run television station.

Considered to be Sweden’s version of Turkey’s TRT, Sveriges Television (STV) will soon be broadcasting the popular television series « Son » (The End) which runs on Atv and stars Yiğit Özşener, Nehir Erdoğan and Berrak Tüzünataç. »

Source : Sabah

 

« Turkish TV series gather at Istanbul fair » – Hürriyet Daily News

« The Turkish and regional television industry has gathered at the DISCOP Istanbul Television Broadcasting Fair, which kicked off Feb. 28.

The fair, taking place at Istanbul’s Ceylan Intercontinental Hotel, includes participants from 32 countries in the Middle East, Central Asia and North Africa that together boast more than 500 million viewers.

The first conference of the fair, which took place Feb. 28, was moderated by Nick Holdsworth, Variety Magazine’s East Europe and Middle Asia chief. The conference focused on the Silk Road and Middle Asia. The second conference will focus on a “Renaissance in Arab content,” discussing how Arab content can be successful abroad.

KanalD, the Samanyolu Broadcasting Group, Show TV, Turkish Radio & TV Corporation (TRT), WWE Turkey, ATV Broadcasting, Digiturk, Calinos Entertainment and ITV – Inter Medya are all presenting their series at the fair. The fair provides a platform for Global Agency, which has distributed series such as “İffet,” “Behzat Ç.,” “Kalbim 4 Mevsim” and “Firar” from Turkey’s private Star TV channel.

Global Agency, whose goal is to distribute the most watched series around the world, has sold “Muhteşem Yüzyıl” (The Magnificent Century) to 40 countries and is among the five fastest growing distribution companies in the world.

The fair is gathering 120 international content providers in Istanbul for presentations and discussions on TV formats, program packages, movie portfolios and more. Global Agency has been attending television broadcasting fairs around the world for the past eight years. The company will also present movie projects such as “Love in a different language” and “1,001 Nights” to international companies in addition to various competition formats. »

Source : Hürriyet Daily News

« 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

« TV fair readies to kick off next week » – Hürriyet Daily News

Behzat Ç, Turkish series, will be among the series, which will be presented to the 40 countries at the DISCOP fair. Global Agency company will be presenting the series. Source Hürriyet

« The Turkish television industry will welcome the DISCOP Istanbul Television Publishing and Fair between Feb. 28 and March 1.

The fair, which will take place at Istanbul Ceylan Intercontinental Hotel, covers 32 countries from the Middle East, Central Asia and North Africa that are together home to more than 500 million audiences.

The fair will also provide a platform for Global Agency, which has distributed series such as “İffet,” “Behzat Ç.,” “Kalbim 4 Mevsim” and “Firar” from Turkey’s private Star TV channel.

Global Agency, whose goal is to distribute the most watched series around the world, has previously sold “Muhteşem Yüzyıl” (The Magnificent Century) to 40 countries and is among the five fastest growing distribution companies in the world.

The fair will gather 120 international content providers in Istanbul for presentations and discussions on TV formats, program packages, movie portfolios and more.

Global Agency has been attending television broadcasting fairs around the world for the past eight years.

A new presentation from Turkish TV scene

Following its presentation of “Magnificent Century” to TV companies at last year’s DISCOP, Global Agency plans to present the series “Suskunlar” (Silent) at this year’s DISCOP, Chief Executive Officer İzzet Pinto said.

The company will also present movie projects such as “Love in a different language,” “1001 Nights” to international companies in addition to various competition formats. »

Source: Hürriyet Daily News

« Gloomy Greeks forget woes with lavish Turk TV dramas » – Sabah

Source : Sabah

« When an Athens taxi driver learned his passenger was the boss of an Istanbul-based company that brings Turkish TV dramas to Greece he reached for his phone, called his wife and put her through to the man sitting in the back seat.

« She had to know what happens next, » Global Agency chief executive Izzet Pinto said with a laugh. « I was expecting success but not like this. »

It all began when crisis-stricken Greek TV channels realized soft that buying the glitzy tales of forbidden love, adultery, clan loyalties and betrayal from long-standing regional rival Turkey, was cheaper than filming their own.

The action-packed dramas quickly came to dominate the ratings despite the fact that they are broadcast in Turkish with only subtitles in Greek and have gained a devoted following among a Greek populace disheartened by the country’s biggest financial crisis in decades.

Local commentators even talk of a Turkish invasion, pointing to the history of enmity between the two countries who have been on brink of war on several occasions in the past.

Relations have warmed and natural disasters in both countries have brought them closer. But Greeks know little about the daily lives of urban Turks.

Panoramic views of Istanbul neighborhoods which were once home to large and vibrant Greek communities have also awakened a sense of nostalgia in Greeks for a place they refer to as « The City » or Constantinople.

« They remind me of a different era, of Greece in the 1960s when people dominated in life, not material things, » said 65-year-old Eleni Katsika, a dentist. « I watch them so I don’t get depressed. »

So fascinated are Greeks with the shows, that groups have started organizing trips to the island of Büyükada off the coast of Istanbul just to gawk at the set of one of the hit dramas, « Kismet. »

« JUST LIKE US »

Between stamping passports in a packed Athens police station, a young officer keeps an eye fixed on a tiny portable TV on the edge of her desk showing repeats of the latest prime-time hit, « Aşk ve Ceza » (Love and Punishment).

TV ratings for the shows in the small country of 11 million reached 40 percent in the summer, knocked off the top spot only by the occasional Champions League soccer match. Major channels ANT1 and Mega competed by showing a drama each at 9 p.m. and re-runs in the late afternoon.

« I realized hatred is manufactured by the guys at the top, » said Angeliki Papathanasiou, a 21-year-old law student. « You don’t see the bad enemy, you see the real Turk who falls in love, who gets hurt, who is like us, » she said of the shows.

As a result, dozens of Greek fan pages on Facebook are peppered with Turkish words like « harika » (wonderful) and « guzel » (beautiful). Some Greek magazines have started giving away CDs for intensive Turkish lessons.

Some Turks find the Greek success of the shows difficult to fathom despite the proximity of the two countries, which in some areas are separated by just a few miles.

« It comes as a shock to me, » said Asli Tunc, a media professor at Istanbul’s Bilgi University. « Greeks need a new kind of entertainment to forget about their problems and these serials seem to meet that demand for now. »

They are also a trip down memory lane to days when the economy was better, traditions were cherished, shoe polishers worked every corner and the local grocery store was a point of reference.

« ‘Ezel’ and the other series portray a lost dimension of Greek society that has been buried in recent years, » novelist Nikos Heiladakis wrote in a local newspaper article about the success of one crime drama. « It awakens in today’s Greek a lost identity, » he wrote.

BREAKING DOWN WALLS?

In a way, the dramas are exporting Turkish culture, Global Agency’s Pinto said, even to a doubtful market like Greece.

« Greeks feel closer to Turks than they did, » he told Reuters. « Sometimes soft power is more important than political power. »

For the moment their grip on the audience remains strong and Pinto, whose company distributes three of the dramas to Greek TV and more than 30 other countries, expects to export about five or six dramas to Greece a year.

Next year will see the TV release of the controversial hit-series « Muhteşem Yüzyil » (Magnificent Century), based on 16th century sultan Suleiman the Magnificent, which so far has only been released as a DVD. Magazines selling DVDs of the episodes sell out within hours.

« I’ve not missed a single copy, » said Yiannis Panagoulis, a 40-year-old handyman. « At this rate I’m going to be speaking Turkish very soon. Who would’ve thought? » « 

Source : Sabah

« 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

« The soft power of Turkish television » – SES Türkiye

Songul Oden (right) and Ayca Varlier play in the Turkish soap opera "Noor", which has been a huge hit in the Middle East. (Reuters). Source : SES Türkiye"

By Cigdem Bugdayci for Southeast European Times in Istanbul – 23/07/11

The success of television series outside Turkey signals a re-branding of the country’s image.

The popularity of Turkish television series, from the Balkans to the Middle East, has brought Turkey to an international audience, and is subtly transforming the image of the country abroad.

Since 2001, 65 Turkish television series have been sold abroad, bringing in over 50m dollars to the booming Turkish television industry. Turkish actors and celebrities are now well-known figures in some countries and scenes of Istanbul have drawn tens of thousands of tourists.

According to Izzet Pinto from the film distribution company Global Agency, Turkish series are quite a novelty for a public very much used to watching only American or Latin American TV productions.

« The TV series are a big commercial opportunity for Turkey, » Pinto tells SETimes.

However, more than the millions of dollars in sales, the emergence of Turkey as a popular brand is equally significant. In the Balkans and Middle East, regions traditionally wary of Turkish influence, the soft message of television holds the power the country to re-market itself.

According to a recent Turkish Economic and Social Studies Foundation report entitled « The Perception of Turkey in the Middle East 2010 », 78% of the respondents said they have watched a Turkish TV series. The report states that the series have become an important part of Turkey’s soft power by creating a lasting influence on Turkey’s image in the region.

Although unplanned, the spread of Turkish television falls neatly into the soft-power strategy of Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu as outlined in his seminal 2001 book « Strategic Depth ».

Davutoglu advocates a pro-active and multi-dimensional foreign policy that sees Turkey’s shared history and culture with former Ottoman lands as a strategic advantage — forming one prong of Turkey’s soft-power strategy.

However, the appeal of Turkish television, mixing emotionally rich images with a sense of well-kept traditionalism, has also received criticism from some conservatives in Turkey who feel the basis of family is being threatened through images of sultry kisses, adultery stories, murder and crime.

According to AKP deputy from Istanbul Halide Incekara, Turkish TV series don’t represent the Turkish family and morals. « The TV series hurt the image of Turkey abroad as they are so full of corrupt storylines and unacceptable behaviors, » she tells SETimes.

On the other hand, Orhan Tekelioglu, a communications professor from Istanbul Bahcesehir University, told SETimes that it is not possible to make any claims on the popularity of TV series without additional research. However, he points out there is actually a strong tendency for the « protection of the family » in the series, which has its roots in the Turkish modernization process.

Tekelioglu also interprets the news about the international spread and success of TV series in the Turkish press in a different manner, telling SETimes, « The sales from the TV series are greeted with ‘hails of victory’ as if coming from ‘an army campaign’ — this must be what they call neo-Ottomanism. »

Source : SES Türkiye