« Deputy proposes ban on TV dramas ‘distorting’ history » – Today’s Zaman

« Justice and Development Party (AK Party) İstanbul deputy Oktay Saral has drafted a law proposal in an attempt to ban dramas that “distort or change historical realities” and depict them differently.

The move came after Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s recent scathing remarks over a TV drama, “Muhteşem Yüzyıl” (Magnificent Century), which portrays the life and luxuries of Süleyman the Magnificent. Erdoğan accused the series of distorting historical facts.

In his remarks which appeared in the Hürriyet daily on Wednesday, Saral said a final version of the proposal is almost ready and will be submitted to the party management this week. “There might be additions later or it may not even be accepted. We’ll consider what to do then,” he said.

As to the reason behind the move, Saral explained: “Of course there are both negative and positive events in the history of every society. We don’t sanctify everything in our history or say they are all correct and reasonable. But depicting unreal events about our historic personalities as though such events were true may lead to a breakaway from history — we are concerned about that.”

Saral suggests making an addition to a clause in Article 8 of the Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTÜK) law, which states that media service providers are prohibited from encouraging crimes, praising criminals and criminal organizations and providing information on how to commit a crime.

The proposed addition is as follows: Broadcasted programs are banned from “insulting, humiliating or distorting” historical events that are accepted in accordance with society’s national values and the widely accepted facts about historical personalities.

Should the proposal be submitted to Parliament by the ruling AK Party, there will be no obstacle to banning the popular “Muhteşem Yüzyıl.”

Meanwhile, RTÜK recently decided to fine a television channel for insulting religious values after it aired an episode of the hit US animated TV series “The Simpsons,” which shows God taking orders from the devil. The radio and television watchdog said it was fining the private broadcaster CNBC-e TL 52,951 ($30,000) for the episode in question, whose scenes included the devil asking God to make him coffee. “The board decided to fine the channel over this matter,” an RTÜK spokeswoman said but declined further comment, saying full details would most likely be announced next week. CNBC-e said it would comment once the fine was officially announced.

RTÜK: Experts watching ‘Muhteşem Yüzyıl’ closely

In a statement released on Wednesday, RTÜK said it is closely watching the controversial soup opera “Muhteşem Yüzyıl,” though it denied reports that the future of the popular drama is being discussed by the board. Recalling that the drama had been fined and warned once because of many complaints by viewers, the statement said unless the drama violates an RTÜK law, it will not be part of the board’s discussions. RTÜK also dismissed claims that several board members had made a move to discuss the future of the drama but that an AK Party-appointed member prevented it. »

Source : Today’s Zaman

« 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

« Turkey ranks 20th in Monocle’s Soft Power Survey  » – Today’s Zaman

« Continuing its steady rise, Turkey for the first time has broken into the top 20 of Monocle magazine’s annual Soft Power Survey rankings.

According to Monocle, Turkey made the top 20 thanks to the popularity of its soap operas across Europe and the Middle East and the bold new routes added by Turkish Airlines.

Coined by a Harvard academic in 1990, the term “soft power” describes how states use attraction and persuasion, rather than coercion or payment, to change behavior.

Monocle magazine’s annual « Global Soft Power » survey ranks nations according to their politics, diplomatic infrastructure, cultural output, capacity for education and appeal to business rather than their financial and military power. » […]

Source : Today’s Zaman

« Amid Ottoman series row, Gül welcomes history in TV shows » – Today’s Zaman

« Turkish President Abdullah Gül has hailed depictions of history in TV shows and movies, adding his voice to recent debates over whether the depiction of history by artistic circles distorts society’s perceptions about certain historical incidents and figures.

“The fact that historical events or people are being dealt with in movies or TV series is a welcome development,” Gül said during the annual Presidential Grand Awards in Culture and Arts on Thursday.

The president stated that history, especially the Ottoman era, has in recent years become a subject of curiosity and interest for people and that’s why we see historical events and figures being more frequently portrayed in TV series, films and stories.

“It is important to take lessons from history. As the Turkish saying goes, ‘history repeats itself’,” Gül further stated.

The debate on TV shows based on history was sparked by remarks from Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who severely criticized “Muhteşem Yüzyıl” (Magnificent Century), a historical soap opera on Turkish networks centered on the intrigues of the Ottoman Palace. Those who criticize the series say it portrays şehzades, or the children of the sultan, as indulged only in sensual pleasures.

Erdoğan feels that the series 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 running 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

« New period TV series accused of distorting well-known history » – Today’s Zaman

Sami, a major character in the series “Seksenler” (The 80s), is seen in this 2012 photo. (PHOTO SUNDAY’S ZAMAN)

By HATICE KÜBRA KULA

« New period television series launched in an attempt to share the history of the country with viewers, who have tuned in by the millions, have been on the receiving end of harsh criticism after claims that the series distorts the truth about historical events and figures.

The wave of harsh criticisms began with the launch of the TV series “Muhteşem Yüzyıl” (Magnificent Century), which is based on the life of Ottoman Sultan Süleyman the Magnificent and his love for Hürrem Sultan, a former slave who eventually became the sultan’s wife. Critics have argued that the costumes the actors and actresses wear in the series do not reflect the design of the clothing worn by members of the Ottoman dynasty but are rather similar to those used in the historical English TV series “Tudors,” which is about the reign and marriages of King Henry VIII. Also labeled by many as a “fake Tudors,” Magnificent Century has been criticized for its plot, which focuses on the harem life of Süleyman, about which, according to historians, there is no detailed account.

The negative reaction to historical series continued after “Bir Zamanlar Osmanlı: Kıyam” (Once Upon A Time in the Ottoman Empire: Rebellion), a series about significant events that took place in 18th-century Ottoman times such as the Patrona Halil Rebellion, started broadcasting in 2012. Viewers initially said the series, which was launched as a rival to Magnificent Century, was initially devoid of realistic characters and a consistent plot. The series underwent significant changes in the past year, including a change in the plot, and technical problems were also solved by producers.

Other television series such as “Seksenler” (The 80s), which revolves around the lives of people living in the1980s in the aftermath of a bloody coup d’état and “Öyle Bir Geçer Zaman ki” (As Time Goes By), which concentrates on the conflicts among members of a family living in the 1960s, have received similar criticism from historians.

Such series, however, have also revived people’s interest in historical figures and events. There has been a sharp increase in the publication and sale of books about history, according to historians. Women’s demand for accessories and jewelry worn by the main characters of these series has created new market opportunities. Historians have started to hold discussions about the figures and incidents in a number of TV programs with the aim of correcting the mistakes in the period TV series.

Ahmet Yaşar, a lecturer from Fatih University’s department of history, commented on the revival of interest in history through these series, saying they help people gain knowledge about history. However, Yaşar also criticized the series, noting that their producers can make changes or additions to historical events in order to increase ratings, adding that such changes or additions should only be made if there is no exaggeration. Yaşar said most people watch these series as if they reflect historical realities without questioning their authenticity, which makes it more important that they consult factual resources such as history texts.

Another historian, who wanted to remain anonymous, stated that the ideological views of the series’ producers also affect the way the characters and plot are rendered. The historian further commented that such TV series have unfortunately become a part of popular culture.

Followers of TV series, speaking to Sunday’s Zaman, talked about their positive and negative views on such series. Tülin Öksüz, a history gradate, noted that the series most of the time only focus on some particular figures and incidents, failing to talk about the lives of the common people, in which people are interested. Aynur Sezen, a fan of Magnificent Century, stated that the series contributes to her knowledge of history although at times the facts are not correct and events that did not occur in a particular period are depicted, which negatively affects the credibility of the series.

Zeliha Karlı, a housewife, noted that historical facts are merely touched upon with elaboration, which is why she chooses to avoid watching them. “However, I wonder if details about the historic figures and incidents were shared in a factual and detailed manner, would they be watched by as many people?” she said. “It is only the series that are set in more recent history that are credible for me since I know what happened during those times and can decide if the incidents are true or distorted,” noted Karlı. »

Source : Today’s Zaman

« Egypt plans to launch TV channel broadcasting in Turkish » – Today’s Zaman

« Egypt is planning to launch a TV channel broadcasting in Turkish, an Egyptian minister has said.

Egyptian Information Minister Salah Abdul-Maqsoud told a correspondent from the Anatolia news agency in Cairo on Wednesday that during his visit to Turkey he had meetings with President Abdullah Gül and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and that the two parties agreed to cooperate in the areas of culture and media.

There was a TV channel in Turkey broadcasting in Arabic, he said, adding that they are also planning to open a TV channel in Egypt broadcasting in Turkish. »

Source : Today’s Zaman

 » ‘Media published manufactured lies during Feb. 28 coup era’  » – Sunday’s Zaman

Sabah’s former boss, Dinç Bilgin, says he is ready to testify in the Feb. 28 investigation. (Photo: Today's Zaman)

« The former owner of a media group has said Turkish newspapers published lies under orders from the military during Turkey’s Feb. 28, 1997 period, saying he is willing to testify in front of prosecutors, who on Thursday issued arrest warrants for 31 generals accused of orchestrating the coup.

Dinç Bilgin, a businessman who was the owner of the Sabah newspaper at the time, said Feb. 28 generals relied heavily on the media to manufacture stories about a growing Islamist threat and that there was a lot of pressure on newspaper owners and editors at the time. “I see the new developments as a very positive step forward. The military at the time saw itself as the hegemon of the country. They saw themselves as above all the country’s constitutional agencies.”

He said the media, as well as academia and the judiciary and other segments of society, were under significant pressure from the military. Bilgin also noted that he would be happy to testify and share what he knows about the Feb. 28 era with prosecutors or judges.

Bilgin said during the Feb. 28 period, he met once with generals Çevik Bir and Erol Öskasnak, who complained about Sabah’s staff, saying they were not doing enough to assist the military. “I was invited to the General Staff headquarters in Ankara. Chief of the General Staff İsmail Hakkı Karadayı invited me for dinner. Before dinner, we sat together with Çevik Bir and Erol Ökasnak in a room. It was a very unpleasant conversation. They complained about Sabah columnists. They complained because the writers weren’t writing the things they wanted to see. I tried my best to explain that newspapers don’t work like the military; however, at the time, it was impossible to explain this to those people. Being a strong media mogul, I gave snide, arrogant replies. It was very unpleasant.”

He said the press, instead of fighting a democratic struggle, published untruthful stories to instill fear about the imaginary threat of rising Islamism that the military had said it was committed to fighting. “After the media, the generals’ strongest ally was the judiciary. Think about the prosecutors of the day. If you opposed them, you would end up in front of Nuh Mete Yüksel,” he said, referring to the chief prosecutor of the State Security Courts (DGM).

Bilgin said some people that the media reported on, who appeared to be reactionary Islamists, were in fact hired actors. “I am saying this for the mainstream media. Generally, such stories on Islamic fundamentalism were being published through the Ankara offices. Whoever is the head of the Ankara office usually wants better ties with the General Staff. The military was the strongest institution in the country at the time, so they wanted to get along with them.” Bilgin stated he would be happy to testify and share his knowledge with the prosecutors if summoned.

Rector of Onsekiz Mart University Sedat Laçiner also made a statement evaluating the recent developments. He said the Feb. 28 intervention was a crime that went unpunished. “Because there were ongoing coup attempts inside the military, those responsible for the Feb. 28 and the Sept. 12 [1980] coups couldn’t be tried earlier,” Laçiner said.

He said the fact that the Feb. 28 intervention was a military takeover is accepted by both those who staged it and those who were victimized by it. He said there was a clear intervention by the military in the civilian government. “Just like the Sept. 12 coup, Feb. 28 also involved torture and many violations of human rights. This is more than the crime of military intervention; there are also people who have been victimized. People were fired from their jobs with no justification, people were treated as if they were second-class citizens. There are people who were put in a cell and interrogated there, people who were told they would be denied their right to education unless they changed the way they dressed. There are people who killed themselves because they were slandered.”

Laçiner noted that the civilian aides of the Feb. 28 architects kept tabs on hundreds of university students and reported on them regularly to the Higher Education Board (YÖK), saying this was a huge violation of human rights. “Despite the fact that millions of people have been victimized, the guilty ones are freely walking the streets. Letting this go unpunished is tantamount to encouraging the crime. You can’t have any statute of limitations here. This crime at hand is obvious.”

Source : Sunday’s Zaman

« 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

« Murdoch tells Erdoğan interested in expanding investment in Turkey » – Today’s Zaman

Ruppert Murdoch. Source : Today's Zaman

« Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan met with News Corporation Chairman Rupert Murdoch on Tuesday afternoon in Ankara.

The Australian-American media mogul’s meeting with Erdoğan followed last month’s media reports that his News Corporation was planning to buy Turkish Çalık Holding’s Sabah daily and ATV station.

A Turkish official close to the prime minister told The Associated Press that Murdoch has expressed an interest in expanding investments in Turkey.

The official said Murdoch told Erdoğan during the meeting that he regarded Turkish media as an « important sector » for investments.

The Turkish official, who spoke on condition of anonymity in line with government rules, would not say if Murdoch expressed interest in acquiring Turkey’s ATV television and Sabah newspaper.

Murdoch in 2007 shared with the Turkish government that he “seriously contemplated the acquisition of Sabah and ATV” when they were put up for sale by the state’s Savings Deposit Insurance Fund (TMSF). Following confiscation by the TMSF of Turkish business tycoon Turgay Ciner’s Merkez Media Group in 2007, the Çalık Group acquired Sabah and ATV along with other smaller entities for $1.25 billion in 2008. The News Corporation’s Wall Street Journal said in late January that US media giant Time Warner Inc. and private equity firm TPG Capital are also interested in Sabah and ATV.

Murdoch’s reputation as a media tycoon was smeared by a scandal last year that even forced the British government to make a statement regarding its links to the mogul’s media empire. Following the discovery of systemic phone hacking made by Murdoch’s News International, police arrested dozens of reporters as well as a number of executives working for him. »

Source : Today’s Zaman

« In the ‘Valley of the Wolves’  » – Sunday’s Zaman

credits : Gael Turine. Source : Sunday's Zaman

« In January 2003, the TV series “Kurtlar Vadisi” (Valley of the Wolves) had just begun to be broadcast. It quickly became popular thanks to its references to politics as well action scenes Turkish viewers had not been much accustomed to in locally produced series. There are many TV series in Turkey that appeal to all sorts of viewer demographics. Among them are historical series, political ones, family series, action series and comedies. These series reach and are watched by not only large domestic audiences but many viewers outside of Turkey as well.

“Valley of the Wolves” wound up being so popular that it was followed by two full-length movies, featuring cast members from the TV show. “Valley of the Wolves: Iraq” took as its basis a real event that occurred in Iraq in 2003, when American soldiers held 11 Turkish soldiers captive. The film was shot on a $14 million budget, making it the most expensive movie shot in Turkey at the time. This was followed by “Valley of the Wolves: Palestine,” which put the spotlight on a multinational flotilla of ships, headed by the Mavi Marmara, a ship Israeli commandos attacked in international waters.

What Turkey’s various TV series have done is to turn the country into the Bollywood of Eastern Europe. The 3.5 million Turks living in Germany follow these series very closely. And regardless of the fact that standard TV series are not generally programs I choose to watch on a regular basis, the fact is that these Turkish productions are very well done. Teams of professionals work on these series to do the best job they can in the shortest amount of time possible. The popularity of “Valley of the Wolves” became more and more clear to me when I saw how many people were gathering in coffeehouses and Internet cafés to watch it. And these days — the new season has just begun — I can already sense the excitement this causes in the people around me.

GAëL TURINE (see http://www.timeinturkey.org/?p=photographer&l=23

[…]

Source : Sunday’s Zaman 

See also : Website of Gael Turine

 

« TPG, News Corp, Time Warner bid for Turkey’s Çalık media » – Today’s Zaman

Photo : Cihan. Source : Today's Zaman

« TPG Capital, News Corp and Time Warner have placed bids for the media assets of Turkey’s Çalık Holding, which also has interests in energy and finance, three sources close to the matter told Reuters on Monday.

« TPG, (News Corp’s Rupert) Murdoch and Time Warner placed bids. I know TPG is very aggressive, » said a source close to the deal, adding the submitted bids were around $1 billion, near the asking price.

He said the sale process could be completed in February.

Çalık bought ATV-Sabah for $1.1 billion in 2007 from the Savings, Deposits and Insurance Fund (TMSF). Çalık took on $750 million of bank debt in April 2008 to finance that acquisition. »

Source : Today’s Zaman

« Race for ATV-Sabah heats up as Murdoch joins in » – Sunday’s Zaman

« Friday’s report in The Wall Street Journal that Australian-American media mogul Rupert Murdoch’s giant News Corporation was mulling over acquiring Turkish Çalık Holding’s Sabah daily and ATV station will boost the competitors’ bids for the sale, observers argue.

Çalık recently announced he was putting Sabah and ATV on sale and that the US investment management firm Goldman Sachs was authorized for the sale. The WSJ quoted sources close to News Corp that the company last Wednesday demanded Goldman Sachs to extend the pre-proposal date for the sale, which gave Murdoch another week to come up with an offer. The WSJ also claimed the sale process has drawn interest from bidders including Time Warner Inc. and private equity firm TPG Capital. The offer could be between $700 million and $1 billion, and the presence of another bidder such as News Corp could increase the deal at the high end of that range or above, the WSJ report said.

This is not the first time Murdoch has voiced interest in the Turkish media market.

Murdoch and his partner Turkish-American music magnate Ahmet Ertegün’s Atlantic Records acquired Turkish Huzur Radyo TV AŞ. — the owner of TGRT TV — for $98 million in 2006. TGRT’s name was later changed to Fox TV and it continues operating under this name in Turkey. The mogul in 2007 shared plans with the Turkish government that he “seriously contemplated the acquisition of Sabah and ATV” when they were put on sale by the state’s Savings Deposit Insurance Fund (TMSF). Following confiscation by the TMSF from Turkish business tycoon Turgay Ciner’s Merkez Media Group in 2007, the Çalık Group acquired Sabah and ATV along with other smaller entities for $1.25 billion in 2008. In addition to top-rated entertainment station ATV and major daily Sabah, Çalık Group also currently owns smaller newspapers Takvim, Günaydın, Yeni Asır and Pas Fotomaç, radio station Radio City, 10 magazines and their properties, brand names and equipment. […] » »

Source : Sunday’s Zaman

« Murdoch’s News Corp. plans bid to buy Turkish media group » – Today’s Zaman

News Corporation CEO Rupert Murdoch holds a copy of The Sun and The Times as he is driven away from his flat in central London on July 11, 2011. (Photo: Reuters / Source : Sunday's Zaman)

« Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation is considering a bid to buy one of Turkey’s biggest media groups, which owns the Sabah daily and popular TV station ATV, according to a report by The Wall Street Journal (WSJ), one of the media outlets owned by News Corporation.

The Turkish group is currently owned by Çalık Holding, a business conglomerate run by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s son-in-law.

Çalık and its advisors at Goldman Sachs Group Inc. sought preliminary bids Wednesday but have pushed back the deadline until next week, in part to accommodate News Corporation, WSJ reported Friday, quoting unnamed sources that it said were familiar with the issue.

The value of Sabah-ATV is estimated to be between $700 million and $1 billion, according to the WSJ report.

The WSJ said US media giant Time Warner Inc. and private-equity firm TPG Capital are also interested in Sabah-ATV.

News Corporation, which owns a number of media outlets — including the Daily Telegraph, New York Post and Fox Broadcasting Company — in many countries, also holds the majority share of popular television station Fox TV in Turkey. »

Source : Today’s Zaman

« Gloomy Greeks forget woes with lavish Turk TV dramas  » – Today’s Zaman

« When an Athens taxi driver learned his passenger was the boss of an İstanbul-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 İzzet Pinto said with a laugh. « I was expecting success but not like this. »

It all began when crisis-stricken Greek TV channels realised 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, most recently in 1996.

Relations have warmed and natural disasters in both countries have brought them closer. But Greeks know little about the daily lives of urban Turks and usually view Turkish society with a critical eye.

« What Turks didn’t achieve with 400 years of military occupation they will achieve with TV occupation, » one blogger wrote in reference to the rule of the former Turkish Ottoman Empire, which included modern-day Greece and collapsed at the start of the 20th century.

Panoramic views of İstanbul 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 organising trips to the island of Büyükada off the coast of İstanbul just to gawk at the set of one of the hit dramas, « Kısmet ».

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 realised 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 « güzel » (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 Aslı Tunç, a media professor at İstanbul’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. »

Not everyone shares his sentiments, however.

Dozens of pages with names like « Death to Turkish series on Greek TV » or « Rehabilitation centre from Turkish series » have sprung up on Facebook by those who want one series off the air because parts of it were filmed in Turkish Cyprus.

« Have (the TV channels) forgotten what Greeks went through? Some things cannot be forgotten, they cannot be erased from Greek history, » one post on the site read.

But 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 Yüzyıl » (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 : Today’s Zaman

« 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