« Wave of fraud raids spreads to TV world  » – Hürriyet Daily News

Targeting the offices of several production and a rating firms, police conduct raids as part of an investigation launched after a complaint from the state-owned broadcaster. DHA photo . Source : Hürriyet Daily News

« Hot on the heels of Turkey’s massive match-fixing case, the country’s TV world has also been shocked by a huge fraud case, with Istanbul police raiding more than 20 locations on allegations of irregularities in the rating measurements for certain channels.

Seven suspects, two of whom are women, were taken into custody yesterday in connection with the allegations, according to Doğan news agency. The suspects were accused of giving gifts to television viewers with measurement devices to keep the ratings of particular shows high.

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. Computer hard-disks, five cell phones and large volumes of digital materials and documents were seized by the police during the raids, Anatolia news agency reported. […]

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

TRT had already dropped out of the rating measurements in January 2010 on the grounds that the results of the measurements were of dubious reliability. A written statement issued from the TRT at the time also indicated that the ratings they received were inconsistent with the improvements they had been making over the past two years.

Other leading broadcasting stations have also decided to withdraw from viewer rating measurements, including NTV, Habertürk, CNBC-e and BloombergHT.

At the moment, only seven broadcasting stations are still subscribing to the system, namely ATV, Flash TV, Fox TV, Kanal 7, Kanal D, Show TV, Star TV and Samanyolu TV. There are devices in 3,500 to 4,000 houses to measure the TV ratings, according to the information available on Nielsen Turkey’s website.[…] »

Source : Hürriyet Daily News

 

« Major ratings fraud probe strikes popular Turkish TV series » – Sunday’s Zaman

by FAZLI MERT and KAZIM PIYNAR. Source Sunday’s Zaman

« The Turkish TV world has been shaken by the launch of a major ratings fraud probe that raised suspicions about the manipulation of ratings for some popular Turkish series and resulted in the detention of six individuals.

The probe has received much support from politicians and figures in the TV world. On Wednesday the İstanbul Police Department’s Organized Crime Bureau raided the offices of several production and ratings-measurement companies including AGB Nielsen, the 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 people meters -– boxes hooked up to TVs for ratings measurements –- were leaked to several television producers. 

[…] The searches were made at the ABG offices and many production companies which produce popular and record-breaking TV series such as “Fatmagül’ün Suçu Ne,” “Muhteşem Yüzyıl,” “Aşk-ı Memnu,” “Yaprak Dökümü,” “Adını Feriha Koydum,” “Ezel,” “Kavak Yelleri,” “Kuzey Güney,” “Bir İstanbul Masalı,” “Doktorlar,” “Karadağlar,” “Arka Sokaklar” and “Binbirgece.”

In İstanbul, Celal Orçun Köktuna, a finance official from TNS and a former AGB employee, and producer Selçuk Çobanoğlu were detained. In Ankara, four individuals were detained but their names were not revealed. Six other individuals, including AGB’s production manager Hilmi Berköz, were also called to testify to the prosecutor.

According to reports, the highly confidential list of the 2,500 families with people meters was leaked to the TV producers. Producers gave TL 200 monthly and expensive gifts to each of these families in order to manipulate the TV-program ratings in their favor.

It is claimed that AGB production manager Berköz is among the partners of OTS, a company that determines the list of families whose homes will have people meters.

Allegations against Çobanoğlu, the producer of the TV series “Ayrılık,” is what prompted the İstanbul probe. According to claims, Çobanoğlu obtained a list of the families with people meters to increase the ratings of the series in İzmir, and he allegedly gave money these families. A probe was launched into the allegations against Çobanoğlu after a notice at the prosecutor’s office.

Producer Erol Köse on Wednesday also lodged a criminal complaint at the İstanbul Prosecutor’s Office over allegations that some ratings-measurement and production companies manipulate the ratings to acquire money illegally.

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

Speaking later to reporters, Karaca said those leaking the lists of families with people meters and those who made use of these lists should certainly be revealed. “The ratings-measurement system needs to be trustworthy. It should work correctly based on trust. Advertisers should see the return of the money they spend for advertisements. The ratings system, which is the only measurement source for producers and TV channels, should be trustworthy. The advertisement pie will grow bigger if there is trustworthiness in this sector. Otherwise, advertisers, producers, we will all lose from this,” said Karaca.

Ratings probe welcomed

The launch of the probe into allegations of ratings fraud has received support from individuals in the TV world and politicians who said the move was welcome although belated.

Turkey’s EU Minister Egemen Bağış said Turkey is a democratic, social and secular state so if there is an offense in question, the judiciary will take necessary action.

“This [ratings probe] is a normal process,” he said.

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.

“The ratings measurement is a very sensitive issue. Even a small manipulation could lead a TV channel to lose $100 million. There are very serious accusations in question. I raised these before but I could not make my voice heard,” said Hazar. 

Samanyolu TV Group Ankara representative Abdullah Abdulkadiroğlu said he has been well aware of the manipulations in the ratings figures.

Speaking to a program on TV8, he said, “As a person working in the TV sector for 17 years, I know very well what kinds of manipulations are made in the ratings.” Abdulkadiroğlu said production companies who produce high-cost TV programs resort to ratings manipulation in order to meet the costs of the expensive programs because more ratings mean more commercials.

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. »

Source : Sunday’s Zaman

« Organized crimes bureau stages raid on ratings » – Sabah

« The Department of Organized Crimes has staged a number of simultaneous operations on numerous production companies, including AGB.

A series of production companies and television stations have been brought under radar for acquiring unlawful profit through interferng with ratings.

Until present, 20 people have been taken into custody. Meanwhile the operation staged by Istanbul’s Organized Crimes Department is currently ongoing. « 

Source : Sabah

« Turkish police detain radio-TV board member » – Cumhuriyet

RTUK member Zahid Akman. Source : Cumhuriyet

« Turkish police detained on Wednesday a member of Supreme Board of Radio and Television (RTUK) within the scope of a German charity investigation. 

Police has took into custody RTUK member Zahid Akman, who was the former chairman of the board, in Ankara within the framework of German « Deniz Feneri e.V. » charity investigation.

In September 2008, a German court convicted three Turks of fraud for drawing off donations and using them for other purposes outside charity.

The Frankfurt State Court sentenced the three men working for the charity Deniz Feneri e.V in Germany to prison terms.

The court sentenced Mehmet Gurhan to 5 years and 10 months, Mehmet Taskan to 2 years and 9 months in prison. Firdevsi Ermis was sentenced to one year and 10 months in prison, which was suspended on probation.

Court judge Johann Muller had said after the trial that Deniz Feneri e.V. had received a total of 41 million euros of donations over last five years in Germany and 17 million euros of that had been sent to Turkey.

The prosecution had also said they had reason to believe that Zahid Akman was responsible for some of the crimes. »

Source : Cumhuriyet

 

« Former head of state media regulator detained » – Sabah

Source : Sabah

« Turkish police detained the former head of the state media regulator and three others on Wednesday in an investigation into an Islamic charity accused of embezzling donations and sending funds to a pro-government media outlet.

The investigation is linked to a 2008 court case in Germany, in which three senior members of the charity, Deniz Feneri, were found guilty and sentenced to jail.

Turkey’s ruling AK Party has denied any links to Deniz Feneri, based in Germany, but the case triggered accusations of government corruption.

The Islamic charity is accused of embezzling donations and sending some of the funds, mainly from Turks residing in Germany, to the pro-government media outlet, Kanal 7.

Those arrested were Zahid Akman, former head of the RTUK state media regulator, and three members of Kanal 7.

A German court said after the trial that Deniz Feneri e.V. had received 41 million euros ($59.16 million) of donations in Germany and that it sent 17 million euros to Turkey. « 

Source : Sabah

« Doğan Yayın: unit tax fine slashed to 129 million lira » – Sabah

Source : Sabah

« Turkey’s leading publishing group Doğan Yayın said on Wednesday a tax fine for its Doğan Produksiyon unit had been reduced to 128.7 million lira ($80.94 million) from a previous 863 million under a tax amnesty deal.

Doğan said that this, the latest in a string of tax amnesty deals, brought its total tax fines to 988 million lira from a previous 4.2 billion lira. The group has not yet completed appeals on a remaining 770 million lira worth of tax fines. »

Source : Sabah

« Dogan Yayin-court rulings in tax dispute upheld » – Sabah

« Turkey’s leading media group Dogan Yayin, embroiled in legal battles against crippling tax fines, said late on Wednesday appeals by both it and the state against initial court rulings had been rejected.

The publishing group said that of cases heard at the tax court involving a sum of 862.3 million lira, the court ruled in its favour for 814.22 million lira worth of that sum.

The court ruled against Dogan for 17.6 million lira worth, and had yet to decide on the remaining 30.6 million lira.

Of cases involving 796.7 million lira dealt with by the administrative court, the court ruled in Dogan Yayin’s favour for 783.2 million lira worth and against in 13.5 million worth.

Challenges by the tax office to court rulings in Dogan’s favour, had been rejected. Similarly Dogan Yayin’s challenges to rulings against it had also been rejected — leaving the original decisions in place. Dogan Yayin is selling its assets but will not exit the media sector entirely.

U.S. private equity fund KKR, Time Warner and private equity fund Texas Pacific Group are among shortlisted bidders for Dogan Yayin’s assets and will have a month to put their final binding offers on the table, a banker said on Tuesday.

Turkish foodmaker Yildiz Holding may bid in partnership with KKR, sources familiar with the deal told Reuters on Wednesday. »

Source : Sabah

« Prosecutor Investigates A TV Show For Defamation Of Atatürk » – Bianet

« Nuray Bezirgan, a Muslim woman, admits she does not like Atatürk in a TV program and the prosecutor starts an investigation.

Beyoğlu Prosecutor has started an investigation concerning the remarks Nuray Bezirganmade about Atatürk in the television program titled “Teke Tek.” The other participant wasKevser Çakır. Prosecutor construed the remarks as insulting Atatürk, the founder of the Turkish Republic. » (…)

Source : http://bianet.org/english/religion/107620-prosecutor-investigates-a-tv-show-for-defamation-of-ataturk