« Controversial Turkish soap opera faces criminal complaint » – Today’s Zaman

« A businessman in the tourism industry has filed a criminal complaint against a controversial historical soap opera aired on a Turkish network, accusing it of undermining people’s understanding of Turkish history.

Ömer Faruk Bildirici, who lives in the central province of Konya, filed the complaint on Friday in a Konya court against “Muhteşem Yüzyıl” (Magnificent Century), a soap opera centered on the intrigues of the Ottoman Palace that airs on Star TV.

Bildirici accused the TV show of distorting society’s perceptions of certain historical incidents and figures and demanded a ban on the TV show in a petition which will be forwarded to the İstanbul Public Prosecutor’s Office.

“Muhteşem Yüzyıl” has become a top issue of debate in the country after Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan severely criticized the show, saying it undermines the golden age of Turkish history, as it portrays Ottoman Sultan Süleyman the Magnificent, known as Kanuni in Turkish, who reigned from his coronation in 1520 to his death in 1566, in a way conservatives in Turkey say is skewed.

Erdoğan not only lashed out at the show but also at its producers, as well as the owner of the network that runs it. “We know no such Kanuni. He spent 30 years of his life on horseback [as opposed to the life of indulgence portrayed in the series]. I publicly condemn the directors of that show and the owners of the television station. We have warned the authorities about this. I expect the judiciary to make the right decision.”

The series has been on the air for two years. Erdoğan and other government representatives have occasionally expressed their annoyance with it, but this was the first time Erdoğan called on the judiciary to act against the show, sparking a major controversy about free speech in Turkey. »

Source : Today’s Zaman

« Turkish TV series to pay cash fine » – Hürriyet Daily News

« The Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTÜK) has handed down a cash fine to the Behzat Ç television series due to what the council deemed inappropriate language and content. The detective series has been warned before over its alleged use of improper language. The fine from RTÜK came after Behzat Ç producers continued to use language RTÜK have defined as improper.

RTÜK also claimed the fine was a result of the series not being proper for Turkish family life. According to RTÜK the language and behavior of the series’ characters creates problems for the Turkish family style.

Management of Star TV earlier made an official statement denying rumors about a broadcast ban for Behzat Ç. Ömer Özgüner, the channel’s controller, said they did not have the slightest intention to stop broadcasting the show before its scripted end.

The head of Turkish Green Crescent complained that the main character of the show, detective Behzat Ç, was not representative of the Turkish police with his alcohol and cigarette use. He claimed the series was doomed to be banned from broadcast soon. »

Source : Hürriyet Daily News

« 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

« Another TV rating scandal hits sector » – Hürriyet Daily News

Confidence in TV ratings sector is faltering as an another TV ratings agency has failed to keep identities of its respondents a secret, an investigation reveals. Souce : Hürriyet

« Turkey’s TV ratings sector is facing a new scandal as a fresh inspection reveals that TNS, the latest rating agency, may have failed to keep the names of its respondents a secret.

In December 2011, the Istanbul Üsküdar Prosecutor’s office launched a case against television rating agencies, finding that production companies had paid respondents to vote in favor of the television programs of their choice. The police raided AGB and several other production companies at the time, and the Turkish Television Viewing Research Committee (TİAK) ended its contract with AGB, to sign a new contract with TNS.

TNS received a list of 100,000 respondents from the Turkish Statistical Institute and outsourced the actual survey distribution to five different intermediary companies. TİAK then chose Marmara University to oversee that the respondent pool was chosen in a healthy fashion.

However, in its March-April report, Marmara University found that the respondents were not chosen in the appropriate fashion and that some respondents either did not complete or inaccurately answered the survey questions, or that their addresses did not match their profiles. The university also found that the surveys could have been leaked after being completed, and were not destroyed as required to protect confidentiality. »

Sourc : Hürriyet Daily News

« TV series in hot water over destruction of historical cave » – Today’s Zaman

The Ottoman-site TV series “Muhteşem Yüzyıl” used Yarımburgaz Cave without permission while shooting. (Photo: Today's Zaman, Üsame Arı)

« Workers who allegedly damaged the historical Yarımburgaz Cave while shooting a TV series there without permission are now facing a prison sentence of up to five years.

Used recently without permission as the set for one of the most watched TV series in Turkey, the Ottoman Empire-set “Muhteşem Yüzyıl” (Magnificent Century), the Yarımburgaz Cave, which dates back 15,000 years, came into the spotlight because of damage that was caused during the shooting of several episodes of the TV series.

According to a Radikal daily report on Sunday, two young archaeologists — Yiğit Ozar and Berkay Dinçer — who were watching episodes 43 and 44 of “Muhteşem Yüzyıl” realized that what they were seeing might be the Yarımburgaz Cave.

After they verified that the series was shot in the cave, they filed a complaint against the TV series.

Due to the complaint from the two archeologists, professionals from the İstanbul Archaeological Museum went to the cave to examine it and drafted a report based on their findings. The report was sent to the İstanbul Public Prosecutor’s Office. Turkish Penal Code (TCK) Law 2863 stipulates a prison sentence of up to five years and fines equivalent to TL 5,000 per day for anyone who damages historical sites under protection.

The comedy series “Leyla ile Mecnun” is another TV series that used the Yarımburgaz Cave as a set for its episodes.

The Yarımburgaz Cave, located near İstanbul, is the oldest known evidence of human presence in Turkey. It is placed among the first-degree archeological sites and is on the List of Cultural Property under Enhanced Protection.

Noting that damaging historical sites is a crime, Dinçer told Radikal that a plan to protect the cave should be drawn up as soon as possible and added, “We cannot protect the cave using only metal bars.” « 

Source : Today’s Zaman

« Deputy gets apology for series character » – Hürriyet Daily News

CHP deputy Nur Serter vows to file a complaint for the character in the TV series. Hürriyet photo

« A production firm publicly apologized to opposition deputy Nur Serter yesterday after she vowed to file a lawsuit over a new television series character – a prostitute-turned-brothel owner – bearing the same name as she.

“We apologize to both Ms. Fatma Nur Serter and the public for this incident that has come about due to a computer mistake, even though [this mistake] has not figured into the [actual] broadcast,” read the written apology issued by Süreç Filming, the company that produced the new series “Uçurum” (Abyss).

Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy Serter said the use of both her first and last names in the series could not be coincidental. “I am of the opinion [my name] was inserted there to serve a certain purpose,” she said, according to daily Hürriyet.  » […]

Source : Hürriyet Daily News

« Let us question everything; future is bright  » by Günseli Ocakoğlu – Today’s zaman

Illustr. cem Kızıltuğ. Source : Today's Zaman

« In fact, objections to the TV ratings thing are not entirely new. The first objection raised against the ratings benchmarking came from the Uzan family, owner of Star TV, which was ranked behind its competitors no matter what it did.

The Uzans even resorted to violent methods, harassing benchmarking company AGB Nielsen. Hakan Uzan reportedly intimidated company executives. But why? The Television Monitoring Research Committee (TİAK) identifies the most frequently watched TV programs. Advertisers or, more precisely, media agencies distribute the budget they have based on the results of the rankings. The most viewed receives the largest amount and the least the smallest.

The TİAK ratings were reshaped after a process administered by the International Advertising Association (IAA) last summer with the joint participation of the Advertisers’ Association and the TV Broadcasters Association. They decided to seek out another ratings institution to replace AGB and they settled on Taylor Nelson Sofres (TNS). A multinational enterprise, TNS has acquired the rights to rate the programs, effective summer 2012. Of course, this all happened in late September 2011 when the rumors — indicating that a list of households in which the AGB was carrying out ratings measurements was no longer confidential — became widespread.

First objection from TRT

Naturally, the first objection to AGB-led ratings measurement was raised by the state-run Turkish Radio and Television Corporation (TRT). The total ratings of all 15 TRT stations did not even reach the level of the most-viewed program in AGB’s ratings list, and this was the primary reason behind the objection by TRT chair İbrahim Şahin. I think it was best that the TRT decided to question this mechanism. Otherwise, had other private stations done this, the objections would not have been taken seriously. But it is not right to restrict the problem to ratings monitoring. There is also the other side of the coin: the news media. The newly launched shows on the stations where the most-viewed shows are broadcast are seen in the news media as magnificent pieces. If you recall, in reference to the TV series “Muhteşem Yüzyıl,” which had been covered by print and visual media for 15 consecutive days, I said in my column in the Zaman daily in January that the value of this media promotion was worth $1.5 million in advertising dollars.

The TV series was also criticized; the comments of those who said they did not like it right after its broadcast influenced viewers. This inevitably negatively affected the TV channel’s ratings. Those who were able to speak loudly were also able to influence perceptions. In the meantime, it was said that the total worth of the advertising business in 2011 was TL 5 billion. Sixty percent of this amount comes from the TV business, which stresses the importance of the ratings monitoring.

Match-rigging, fraud; what’s next?

At a time when we were heavily occupied with match-rigging allegations, we failed to react to all these rumors and reports indicating that 1,100 out of 2,220 AGB household addresses were on the market and being purchased. This should have then been handed over to police. And this is exactly what happened. Even though the management of the ethical dimension is the duty of the ratings company for the sake of its honor, the issue should be broadly considered because of the size of the marketing communication sector. In other words, the vision of the media and advertiser, and the strength of their association, will suffice to manipulate and direct this process. In this case, why have police been involved in the process? I think this is one of the things that we need to take into account.

The investigation was initiated Dec. 14; TİAK and the Association of Television Broadcasters (TYD) came together to hold a meeting in order to assess the situation on Dec. 15. TİAK chair Hidayet Karaca made a brief but eloquent statement. He said, “We will be following the process, and we will share the information we receive with the public.” But there is one serious problem with respect to the whole issue. How would you ask these 2,220 families if their information and identity have been revealed? This is an investigation that proves to be costly for both the families and the police.

Contract with AGB annulled; what’s the next move?

TİAK has decided not to work with the ratings institution anymore, given that there was no confidence and faith in the ratings monitoring; subsequently, it stopped the monitoring as of Dec. 20, 2011. The committee also unanimously decided to carry out monitoring activities with TNS, with whom they have already signed a contract. Let us say this is a proper decision; but will we learn lessons from past mistakes? And what should be done to make sure that the same thing will not happen again? The brands, corporations and institutions which invest a lot of money in advertising would like to know whether their monies are being used properly; in other words, transparency and measurability are essential.

In light of the ratings fraud and abuse of power, should we ask whether the same fraud has occurred in the other types of media, including print, radio and Internet? Should the advertiser consider the total number of viewers or the quality of the target audience? How proper is it to disregard the consumer profile? Shouldn’t all this require a proper questioning of print media as well? Should we discuss the ranking methodology of the Press Monitoring Research Committee (BİAK)?

What is more important: numbers or perception?

The BİAK report ranks the daily newspapers by number of readers per one copy as follows: Cumhuriyet 9.2, Milliyet 7.9, Posta 6.5, Takvim 5.2, Vatan 4.9, Hürriyet 4.8, Akşam 4.7, Güneş 4.6, Sabah 4.2, Habertürk 3.8, Türkiye 2.9, Bugün 2.9, Yenişafak 2.5, Star 2, Zaman 1.8. In other words, this list says you should multiply the number of copies sold for a given paper with the number of readers per paper, and advertising dollars should be consistent with the results. If this view is adopted, the papers with the smaller circulation figures will receive a greater amount of advertising money as the top of the list includes smaller-circulating papers while the highest-circulating Zaman is at the bottom. However, it was just the opposite in the TV ratings.

There is other, similar research being done in other parts of the world, and because it was assumed that the research could be extensively discussed and manipulated, it was concluded that circulation figures instead are trustworthy. The surveys and research are mostly used to identify the readers’ profile. In consideration of the discrepancy between the findings and results of the BİAK report and Target Group Index (TGI) marketing and media survey, some media agencies in Turkey have now decided to rely on the number of copies sold for their media-planning activities. In the meantime, and perhaps this isn’t well-known, but only Zaman is subjected to professional monitoring and inspection.

Let’s be honest!

I believe that everything should be investigated and questioned for transparency. Let us investigate fully, and then figure out what is appropriate and right. But let’s also be honest. If media agencies or advertisers tell some papers and TV stations they will not buy ads, it would be more ethical. It is not ethical to avoid this and then rely on the controversial rankings. We, the agencies, the advertisers and media, all components of the marketing and marketing communication sectors, should be critical of ourselves so that we will be entitled to criticize others. Is this not the right time to question all ratings methodologies, including the one adopted by BİAK at a time when TİAK is being discussed? »

Source : Today’s Zaman

« Previous ratings-fraud probes were covered up  » – Today’s Zaman

The police raided the offices of several production and ratings-measurement companies and detained five people in a ratings-fraud probe on Nov. 14. (Photo: AA, source : Today's Zaman)

« A recent probe into allegations that some TV producers bribed viewers to manipulate TV ratings — after a confidential list that included details about families given devices to measure ratings was leaked — has shown that previous allegations regarding ratings fraud were neglected by the Kadıköy Public Prosecutor’s office.

The investigation into ratings fraud that is being conducted by Akif Özgün, the Üsküdar public prosecutor, has revealed some details about former allegations of ratings fraud that have been neglected by the Kadıköy Public Prosecutor’s Office. According to this, an investigation was launched in 2009 by the office into allegations put forward by the Turkish Radio and Television Corporation (TRT) against Craig Johnson, the general manager of AGB Nielsen Media Research (Turkey), which measures TV ratings; AGB inspector Uğur Çağlı; and the Television Audience Research Committee (TİAK) Chairman Ömer Hıfzı Kayalıoğlu, accusing them of leaking lists that included the identities and addresses of people whose homes have People Meters, or special boxes hooked up to televisions for ratings measurements.

Kadıköy public prosecutor Ömer Faruk Alpaslan dismissed the investigation, after which TRT appealed this decision at the Kadıköy 4th Criminal Court of First Instance, which overturned the prosecution’s dismissal of the case, and a case was filed. The indictment of the case stated that “it was revealed that the suspects, by leaking the names and addresses of families whose homes have people meters to some individuals and organizations, have revealed commercial secrets,” but the three suspects were acquitted by the court on March 8, 2011.

Apart from the case in Kadıköy, there was another investigation into similar allegations by the İzmir Public Prosecutor’s Office that was launched in 2009. Producer Selçuk Çobanoğlu was accused of having a list of people who have people meters in their homes, and it was claimed that he took this list from AGB Production Director Hilmi Berköz. Çobanoğlu testified to the prosecution about these claims. It was also revealed that the İzmir public prosecutor also interrogated some families with People Meters, and the families said in the interrogations that Çobanoğlu called them and offered them money in order to watch certain TV programs. Completing all questioning, the İzmir public prosecution transferred the case file to the Kadıköy Public Prosecutor’s Office in 2010. The Kadıköy prosecutor at that time, Mufit Büyükçolpan, declared he would proceed no further with the investigation. Although the decision was appealed, no case has been filed on this investigation by the Kadıköy Public Prosecutor’s Office.

These two investigations into allegations of ratings fraud that were neglected by the same prosecutor’s office have aroused suspicions about whether the judicial process was manipulated by certain individuals.

The İstanbul Police Department’s Organized Crime Bureau on Dec. 14, 2011, raided the offices of several production and ratings-measurement companies and detained three people over claims that they were involved in ratings fraud.

Offices of the AGB Nielsen company, the www.uçankuş.com, Ay Yapım (Productions), Med Yapım and Tims Yapım and the houses of company owners were raided by police officers from the Organized Crime Bureau over claims alleging that lists with the names of families whose homes have People Meters leaked to several television stations.

Police seized dozens of hard disks, five mobile phones and many digital documents during the searches. Allegations of ratings fraud were frequently raised by TRT beginning in 2008.

Last year, the corporation announced that its channels would no longer be included in audience measurements provided by AGB Nielsen Media Research, which has been conducting TV audience research in Turkey since 1989. »

Source : Bürşa Erdal, Today’s Zaman

« TRT likely to fill eight-month gap for ratings measurements  » – Today’s Zaman

 » President of the Turkish Radio and Television Corporation (TRT) İbrahim Şahin has said the TRT is likely to measure TV ratings for eight months until rating-measurement company Taylor Nelson Sofres (TNS) has established its own system.

The Television Audience Research Committee (TİAK) earlier announced that it is severing its agreement with the rating-measurement company AGB Nielsen in a move that has plunged the future of television ratings in Turkey into uncertainty. In a recent rating-fraud scandal, which has shaken the Turkish television world, TİAK terminated its contract with AGB, an international company that measures over 40 percent of the world’s TV viewing behavior, following a revelation that the company had leaked a confidential list that included details of families who had been bribed to manipulate TV ratings.

In an interview with Today’s Zaman, Şahin said the TRT authorities will convene with TİAK President Hidayet Karaca next week. It is likely that the TRT will be given the task of measuring ratings as a result of the meeting because there is no immediate solution as to who will measure the ratings at the moment. TİAK has an existing contract with TNS to begin working in September 2012 and the company is not expected to take over the task sooner.

Not measuring ratings during eight months portends financial damage for both companies that advertise and broadcasters as well, Şahin said. While stating that the TRT was offered the job, Şahin continued: “They [TİAK] can get through this eight-month period, which if it wasn’t for TRT they wouldn’t receive any data regarding TV ratings in this time. They are most likely to decide on such a solution. Otherwise how can companies that want to advertise make decisions?” Şahin said rating measurements might be conducted through rating measurement company SBT Analiz, which the TRT works in cooperation with.

Şahin said the TRT has been a member of TİAK since the committee was granted status of a legal entity, yet the TRT has put a special condition on their agreement to pave the way for getting their own ratings measured. “But we want this job to be maintained by one body. This can be done. Two companies [rating-measurement companies] can be managed with one hand. That also ensures a crosscheck. Then we can have a reliable measurement. This system is not common in the world but there are places who apply it,” he added. »

Source : Today’s Zaman

« TV ratings may go blank as firm stops measuring  » – Hurrïyet Daily News

« The company that has been measuring televison ratings in Turkey says it will not countinue the job, leaving TV stations and advertisers without a rating system

The future of television ratings in Turkey has plunged into uncertainty, as AGB Nielsen Company that used to conduct the measurements announced their withdrawal yesterday, hours after the Television Watching Monitoring Committee (TİAK) terminated its contract with the company, following a major fraud scandal.

“The reliability of the measurement system that constituted the basis for the distribution of advertisements and conducted by [AGB Nielsen Company] has ceased to be,” said the statement issued by the TİAK’s chief executive Dr. Hidayet Karaca. In the latest twist regarding the television fraud scandal that erupted last week, the TİAK pulled out of its contract with AGB Nielsen, after it turned out that the addresses of over 1,000 rating measurement subjects had been compromised.

AGB Nielsen, in turn, in a statement today said they were no longer going to conduct rating measurements, according to reports. A large part of the 1,070 subjects whose adresses had been disclosed were newcomers into the system, as they had replaced 800 other subjects whose addresses had also been exposed, according to the state broadcasting station Turkish Radio and Television (TRT). […]

Last week’s raids were conducted on allegations that rating measurement subjects had been given gifts to keep the ratings of particular shows high. A number of leading broadcasting channels, such as NTV, Habertürk, CNBC–e and BloombergHT, have already stopped subscribing to the rating measurement system, while a number of suspects were taken into custody in connection with the allegations.

Ratings measurements in Turkey were conducted by AGB Nielsen Turkey and TİAK, a company that brings together TV stations and advertisers. Their competition in the TV market was very fierce as channels are constantly striving to gain a bigger share of Turkey’s $1.5-billion TV ad market. « 

Source : Hürriyet Daily News

« AGB founder sold TV ratings company in face of network pressure » – Today’s Zaman

Hilmi Köksal Alişanoğlu (Photo: AA). Source : Today's Zaman

« A businessman who was one of the founding partners of the AGB television ratings company, which is currently at the heart of a ratings scandal, has said he and his partners were forced to sell the company in the face of pressure from network owners and producers to present ratings for their stations and shows higher than they actually are.

Hilmi Köksal Alişanoğlu, who founded AGB with his partners in 1984, said he faced great pressure from broadcasters. “We resisted for a long time, but it wasn’t enough. When we couldn’t anymore, in 1994, we transferred the company ownership for a meager sum.”

Ratings takers have been in the spotlight since police launched a major investigation into ratings fraud. In the course of the probe, it became evident that some networks had obtained a list of households where ratings measuring devices had been installed and bribed residents to watch their shows in order to manipulate their ratings.

Alişanoğlu, author of “The Communist Businessman” — a humorous book which recounts the author’s memories as a businessman, told Today’s Zaman that networks have been pressuring ratings companies to manipulate viewer ratings for the past 20 years. “There are so many agencies, so many producers involved,” he said, reiterating that this was the only reason he and his partners sold their company.

He also indicated he was sure that AGB had not leaked the identities of families with ratings measuring boxes, noting that producers have been able to acquire lists of households in the ratings program through intimidation for years.

He recalled that a similar incident had taken place earlier. “In 1992, a television network tried to strong arm us because its overall ratings were low. They told us to ‘correct their ratings.’ After a short while, the [then-state-owned telephone and postal company] PTT raided our office and demanded the list. We gave the list to the PTT. However, after a while, the same company started complaining again that their ratings were falling. They said our viewer lists were being leaked and they showed a list that was exactly the same copy we had given the PTT — it had my handwriting on it. We had to suspend ratings measurement operations for that year.”

Alişanoğlu added that the AGB suffered major to its reputation after it was sold in the face of pressure from networks. The businessman detailed in his books the tricks carried out by broadcasters and producers to manipulate their ratings. Alişanoğlu has held managerial positions in various media companies, including Bileşim, Bileşim Media and AGB — three companies he helped establish. »

Source : Today’s Zaman

« Five released in ratings operation in Istanbul  » – Hürriyet Daily News

Police also collected piles of documents in raids on more than 20 businesses under the ratings operation in Istanbul. . Souce: Hürriyet

« Three people, who were taken into custody and sent to court as part of a media rating investigation in Istanbul, have been released. Another two suspects were also freed by the public prosecutor without having to appear in court.

The suspects included a former employee of the AGB rating measurement company O.K, and producer S.Ç.

The raids targeted the offices of numerous production firms as well as the AGB Nielsen Company, which measures ratings. They were all part of an investigation launched following a complaint from the state-owned broadcaster Turkish Radio and Television (TRT) for alleged tampering with television ratings.

The suspects are accused of giving gifts to television viewers with measurement devices to keep the ratings of particular shows high. »

Source : Hürriyet Daily News

« Police conclude rating raids  » – Hürriyet Daily News

DHA Image. Source : Hürriyet

« Police raids of production firms and the ABG Nielsen Company concluded yesterday as part of an operation regarding allegations of irregularities in the rating measurements of television channels.

Teams from the anti-organized crime desk put the documents they have collected into sacks and sealed them after the raid at company offices. Documents were taken to the anti-organized crime desk to be inspected. 

The raids, which targeted the offices of numerous production firms and the AGB Nielsen Company, which measures ratings, were part of an investigation launched following a complaint from the state-owned broadcaster Turkish Radio and Television (TRT) for alleged tampering with television ratings. So far nine people in Ankara and Istanbul were detained as part of the operation.

The suspects are accused of giving gifts to television viewers with measurement devices to keep the ratings of particular shows high. Meanwhile, Hidayet Karaca head of the Television Watching Monitoring Committee (TİAK), of which members are advertisers, TV representatives and independent bodies, was called into Istanbul Police Department.

“It must be discovered how and by whom this information was leaked and whether anybody used it. This system has to be a reliable one. If there is doubt in the system, all of us will suffer from that,” Karaca said as he was leaving the police station. »

Source : Hürriyet Daily News

« Three detained in rating fraud investigation » – Today’s Zaman

Photo : Cihan. Source : Today's Zaman

« The İstanbul Police Department’s Organized Crime Bureau on Wednesday raided the offices of several production and ratings-measurement companies and detained three people over claims that they were involved in ratings fraud.

Offices of the AGB Nielsen company, the www.uçankuş.com, Ay Yapım (Productions), Med Yapım and Tims Yapım and the houses of company owners were raided by police officers from the Organized Crime Bureau over claims alleging that lists with the names of families whose homes have People Meters – special boxes hooked up to televisions for ratings measurements – were leaked to several television stations.

The names of those detained – some of whom are company owners – had not been revealed by the time Today’s Zaman went to print. Police said searches in the offices and houses of the owners of these companies continue and number of those detained could increase.

Police seized dozens of hard disks, five mobile phones and many digital documents during the searches. Allegations of ratings fraud were frequently raised by the Turkish Radio and Television Corporation (TRT) beginning in 2008.

Last year, the corporation announced that its channels will no longer be included in audience measurements provided by AGB Nielsen Media Research, which has been conducting TV audience research in Turkey since 1989.

A written statement released by the TRT last year noted that while ratings for TRT 1, the corporation’s most-watched channel, rose from the beginning of 2008 through March 2009, they began to fall systematically in April 2009 for no apparent reason. TRT criticized the audience measurement system managed by AGB Nielsen.

Speaking to Cihan news agency, TRT General Manager İbrahim Şahin said the investigation into some production and ratings measurement companies has justified the TRT’s claims of fraud in ratings measurement.

“We talked about the ratings fraud three years ago for which the judiciary has taken action today. Time has showed that the allegations we brought forward three years ago are all true,” said Şahin.

He recalled that some circles found the TRT’s allegations three years ago about the ratings system ungrounded, however, they have turned out to be mistaken.

“Our claim was that the ratings system in Turkey is wrong. After the Competition Board, the prosecutor’s office, the judiciary and the police saw this fraud, I really wonder what people who have strongly defended the ratings measurement in Turkey think today. Will they offer an apology to the people?” asked Şahin. »

Source : Today’s Zaman

« Prosecutor demands arrest of three suspects in TV ratings fraud case » – Today’s Zaman

The İstanbul Police Department's Organized Crime Bureau raided the offices of several production and ratings-measurement companies and detained seven people on Wednesday in a ratings fraud probe case. (Source and photo: Today's Zaman)

« An İstanbul prosecutor on Friday referred three out of seven people who were detained earlier this week as part of a probe into allegations that some TV producers bribed viewers to manipulate TV rating after rating agency AGB Nielsen leaked a confidential list, including details about families given devices to measure ratings, to court, demanding their arrest.

A major ratings fraud probe was launched following suspicions of manipulation of the ratings of a number of popular Turkish series. Seven people were detained on Wednesday when the İstanbul Police Department’s Organized Crime Bureau raided the offices of several production and ratings-measurement companies, including AGB Nielsen, www.uçankuş.com, Ay Yapım (Productions), Med Yapım and Tims Yapım, and detained six individuals in İstanbul and Ankara over claims alleging that lists with the names of families whose homes have so-called “people meters” — boxes hooked up to TVs to measure ratings — were leaked to several television producers.

The detainees include AGB Production Director Hilmi Berköz, former AGB employee Cemal Orçun Köktuna, who is now the financial affairs director of TNS; another rating measurement company; Uğur Akkuş, the owner of an IT company called Bilişim İnovasyon; Selçuk Aklaş, an employee of the IT company Uyumsoft and Producer Selçuk Çobanoğlu.

Two of the suspects were released following their questioning at the police station on Thursday night. The prosecutor released two others on Friday, but referred the remaining three, Çobanoğlu, Berköz and Köktuna to a court demanding their arrest.

Five of the suspects were taken to the Üsküdar Courthouse on Friday morning to testify to Prosecutor Akif Özgün, who is conducting the investigation into the probe. The suspects were later arrested under orders from a judge.

TV critics, politicians and even ministers have voiced their support for the probe. Television journalist Uğur Dündar also commented on the allegations on Friday, saying he supports the operations into alleged rating riggers. “This has been hovering above the sector like a dark cloud.” He also congratulated the police force for the raids. “This was important to make sure that the sector is cleaned, and also that rating measurements can be taken correctly after this.”

Investigators suspect that a highly confidential list of the 2,500 families given people-meters — devices for tracking how long and how often a program is viewed — was leaked to the TV producers. Producers gave expensive gifts and paid TL 200 a month to each of these families in order to manipulate the TV-program ratings in their favor, investigators claim.

Television Audience Research Committee (TİAK) President Hidayet Karaca late on Wednesday testified at the İstanbul Police Office as a witness in the ratings probe.

Another person who testified in the probe was Can Tanrıyar, head of the entertainment news website www.uçankuş.com. After talking to the prosecutors on Wednesday, he clarified to journalists outside the courtroom that he wasn’t summoned as a suspect, but the investigators called him to testify to provide information. Tanrıyar said a surefire method to see whether the rating measurements of a particular show were being manipulated was to see the rating shares for the show during commercial breaks. “When the commercials start, a program loses most of its rating shares. For example, a share of 10 falls to four during the commercial break. But if the share for a particular show rises to 15 during a commercial break, this makes it clear as day that there is some sort of manipulation involved.

Tanrıyar said he was assisting the police with the investigation, adding that there was a network behind the rating fraud scheme. Investigators have a large quantity of evidence pointing to the relationship between the trial families and producers, mostly acquired during the technical monitoring, such as wiretapping, of the suspects.

TV critic and journalist Bekir Hazar said the ratings-fraud probe is a belated but welcome move, adding that prosecutors should have taken action about fraud allegations in ratings long ago. He said the lists of the families with people meters were circulating by email and even singer İbrahim Tatlıses once said he had these lists.

Allegations of ratings fraud were frequently raised by the Turkish Radio and Television Corporation (TRT), beginning in 2008.

Last year, the corporation announced that its channels will no longer be included in audience measurements provided by AGB. TRT last year noted that while ratings for TRT 1, the corporation’s most-watched channel, rose from the beginning of 2008 through March 2009, they began to fall systematically in April 2009 for no apparent reason. TRT criticized the audience measurement system managed by AGB.

The recent investigation is the culmination of a six-month probe silently carried out by police. Sources said the investigation was likely to expand, noting more detentions could follow. »

Source : Today’s Zaman