« Murdoch a contender to buy Atv-Sabah » – Sabah

« According to Wall Street Journal, News Corp may be joining the likes of Time Warner Inc. and TPG Capital to offer bids for Sabah-ATV.

Çalık Group and its advisors at Goldman Sachs were seeking preliminary bids on Wednesday; however the deadline to bid for Turkey’s second largest media conglomerate has now been pushed back to next week, allowing for News Corp to also be a contender.

The sale process for the Sabah-ATV media conglomerate run by young prominent business leader Serhat Albayrak , which includes the highly competitive newspaper and television station as well as a series of popular magazines, has already received interest from U.S. media giant Time Warner Inc. and private-equity firm TPG Capital. According to The Wall Street Journal, Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp will also be putting up a bid. Sources say Sabah-Atv is valued somewhere between $700 million and $1 billion. A bid from News Corp., which also owns The Wall Street Journal, could push the sales figure to the higher end of that range or above.

In 2008, Çalık Group, which also has interests in construction, energy, textiles, finance and telecommunications, acquired Sabah-Atv from the state for $1.25 billion. »

Source : Sabah

« 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

« Calik media sale to get airing in February » – Reuters

By Seda Sezer and Asli Kandemir

* Goldman Sachs hired for sale -sources
* Comes after Calik placed on watch list by Fitch
* No problems redeeming $200 mln bond -company official (Releads with media sale)

ISTANBUL, Jan 18 (Reuters) – Turkish group Calik Holding may complete the sale of media assets ATV and Sabah in February, sources told Reuters on Wednesday.

Earlier in the day, a Calik official insisted the group would have no problem redeeming a maturing $200 million unsecured note after Fitch Ratings placed the company on a watch list due to refinancing concerns.

Calik hired Goldman Sachs this month to steer the sale of ATV and Sabah, according to sources close to the matter, who added the initial bidding round will close on January 18.

Private equity funds including TPG Capital and KKR & Co, along with Time Warner and RTL Group — Europe’s biggest commercial broadcaster — are among interested bidders, the sources said.

« Calik Group does not have a financing problem. It will make a strategic decision on whether to exit media. I do not think the process would take too long because Goldman Sachs studied the media sector very well and Calik is only talking to a very few investors, » a source close to the deal told Reuters.

« Bids will be collected until the beginning of February and the sale may finalise in February, » the same source said. Another source close to the matter also confirmed bids will be collected until February.

Goldman Sachs was last year mandated for the sale of assets of Turkey’s biggest media group, Dogan Yayin, and was hired for the separate process of selling its flagship Hurriyet newspaper.

The interested bidders for Calik assets were also on the shortlist for Dogan Yayin assets, but that sale did not happen.

Credit rating agency Fitch said on Tuesday it had placed the $200 million, five-year bond issued by Globus Capital Finance and guaranteed by Calik, on rating watch negative.

« There is no problem with the redemption. We will make the redemption, » a Calik Holding official told Reuters on Wednesday.

The redemption by Calik, which also has interests in energy and finance, is due on March 5.

The 8.5 percent bond has been falling in recent weeks, and was trading at a yield of almost 25 percent on Wednesday.

« Fitch assumes that Calik will need to get additional bank lines or external funding to meet the maturity which, to Fitch’s knowledge, have yet to be put in place, » the agency said.

It added the Sabah and ATV media assets were thinly capitalised, considering the competitive market they were in and the current and projected working capital needs.

Calik took on $750 million of bank debt in April 2008 to finance that acquisition. (Editing by David Hulmes)

Source : Reuters

« Doğan wins governance award » – Hürriyet Daily News

Doğan Chairwoman Yalçındağ (C) speaks during an Istanbul meeting yesterday. DHA photo. Source : Hürriyet Daily News

« Doğan Holding, a major Turkish media company, received “The Company with Third Highest Corporate Governance Rating Score” award yesterday at the Fifth International Corporate Governance Summit” organized by the Corporate Governance Association of Turkey.

The Industrial Development Bank of Turkey (TSKB) scored the highest score, while TAV Airports Holding came in second place.

The awards were based on the rating scores of Istanbul Stock Exchange’s Corporate Governance Index companies, as of Dec. 31, 2011.

The awards are based on the methodology of the Capital Market Board (SPK) and aims to create awareness and promote the best practices of corporate governance in Turkey, according to the web site of the association.

“Adopting corporate governance principles makes the firms more stable against risks,” Arzuhan Doğan Yalçındağ, said Doğan chairwoman, at the summit, adding that Doğan was one of the first business groups to go public in 1993.

Speaking at the ceremony, Ümit Boyner, head of Turkish Industry & Business Association, said the SPK should become more transparent with more independent board members. »

Source : Hürriyet Daily News

« Çalık Group’s TV channels up for sale  » – Hürriyet Daily News

« TPG Capital, KKR & Co LP and Time Warner are in talks to buy media assets from Turkey’s Çalık Holding, which include Sabah newspaper and ATV television, four people familiar with the situation said, according to Bloomberg News.

Two sources said Germany’s RTL was also interested in such an acquisition, Reuters reported, adding that the initial offers will be collected through Jan. 18. “The price [Çalık] demands is nearly 15-fold of the earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, which is really high,” one source said.

Çalık Holding hired Goldman Sachs Group to advise on the sale, said sources, who declined to be identified because the talks are private, Bloomerg reported.

Gavin Davis, a spokesman for TPG at public relations agency Pelham Bell Pottinger, did not return calls seeking comment. Turkuvaz Media Group, Çalık’s unit that owns daily Sabah and ATV channels, did not reply to emailed questions. Also, KKR did not answer emailed questions.

Time Warner’s chief in Turkey, Efe Onbilgin, did not respond to calls to his cell phone seeking comment. k HDN »

Source : Hürriyet Daily News

« Year’s popular TV series and artists announced  » – Hürriyet Daily News

« A study carried out by the Media Monitoring Center (MTM) has revealed the most talked-about series in Turkey. According to the study, the year’s most popular show was ‘The Magnificent Century’ while the most popular actor was Kıvanç Tatlıtuğ

Turkey’s Media Monitoring Center (MTM) has announced the results of a study to determine the country’s most popular TV series and actors, declaring the Ottoman-themed “Magnificent Century” and heartthrob Kıvanç Tatlıtuğ as the big winners.

According to the report, which was prepared by monitoring all articles that appeared in newspapers and magazines throughout the year, the most popular TV series of 2011 was “Muhteşem Yüzyıl” (The Magnificent Century), followed in second place by “Öyle Bir Geçer Zaman ki” (As Time Goes By). Actress Beren Saat, the most popular screen artist last year, gave way to Tatlıtuğ this year.

“Muhteşem Yüzyıl,” Show TV’s most popular production, was mentioned in more than 8,000 news and articles in 2011. The series, exploring the reign of one of the most important Ottoman sultans, Süleyman the Magnificent, has been criticized by many political figures for reportedly failing to accurately depict the period.

Kanal D’s production of the nostalgic “Öyle Bir Geçer Zaman Ki” was the second most popular TV series in 2011. Set in the 1960s and starring Erkan Petekkaya and Ayça Bingöl, the TV series was mentioned in more than 5,000 articles in newspapers and magazines.

“Fatmagül’ün Suçu Ne?” (What’s Fatmagül’s Crime?), another series on Kanal D, ranked third in the report. In its second season, the production appeared in nearly 4,000 news articles and magazines throughout the year. […]

Turkish TV series such as “Magnificent Century” and “Forbidden Love” have broken viewer records in the Middle East and North Africa, bringing in much-needed foreign currency while raising Turkey’s clout in the region through the promotion of a Turkish lifestyle, the Hürriyet Daily News recently reported.

Turkey earned more than $60 million just this year from exporting TV series, and more than 100 Turkish TV series have been watched in over 20 countries this year.

“We began to broadcast in the Balkan countries this year,” Fırat Gülgen, chairman of Calinos Holding, which handles 80 percent of the TV series exported from Turkey, told Anatolia news agency Dec. 10.

Gülgen said TV series were exported to many Central and Eastern European countries including Serbia, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Romania, Poland and Hungary. In the Far East, buyers include Malaysia, Indonesia, Taiwan, Thailand, Singapore, Japan and Vietnam.

Source : Hürriyet Daily News

« 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

« Istanbul to be a social media hub » – Hürriyet Daily News

« The President of the European Communication Research and Education Association (ECREA) François Heinderyckx said Turkey is becoming a regional media power due to its export of local television programs and the popularity of social media with Istanbul’s youth.

Speaking at a press conference yesterday regarding the fourth European Communication Conference to be held next year, Heinderyckx also emphasized the rising importance of Turkish universities offering media studies.

“The conference will be held in cooperation with the Association of Communication Research [İLAD] in Turkey, underlining the future of social media with Istanbul the focus of the organization this year,” he said.

Three thousand academics from all over Europe are expected to attend the conference, which will be divided into 14 thematic groups including digital culture, democracy communication and gender media.

Secretary-General of İLAD Nurçay Türkoğlu said Istanbul is an attractive destination not only for tourists but also for academics and businesspeople who specialize in communications.

“Istanbul is a heaven for an academic who studies communications,” Türkoğlu told Hürriyet Daily News. k HDN »

Source : Hürriyet Daily News

See also :
ILAD : http://www.iletisimarastirma.org/
Today’s Zaman : « European Communication Conference to be held in İstanbul next year »
Radikal :  « Sosyal medya ve global sesler »

 

 

« 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

« TV ratings suspended as TİAK seek alternative » – Today’s Zaman

Source : Today's Zaman

« The Television Audience Research Committee (TİAK) has 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 the latest twist in the 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 the revelation that the company had leaked a confidential list that included details of families who had been bribed to manipulate TV ratings.

With no immediate solution on the horizon, TİAK is looking to enter into negotiations with Taylor Nelson Sofres (TNS), with whom it has an existing contract to begin working in September 2012, as to the possibility of putting the contract into effect sooner than planned.

Speaking about what the future holds for the calculation of TV ratings in Turkey, TİAK General Manager Dursun Güleryüz said the company requires a short period to make decisions regarding future partnerships: “We are currently trying to bring forward the date with which we begin working with TNS. At the moment it is a little ambiguous, but we will make a firm decision at a TİAK board of directors meeting next week,” adding that the company’s foremost aim was to ensure that the sector did not suffer damage and that the situation could be rectified in a reliable and trustworthy way.

Despite the uncertainty of the situation and the fact that ratings will not be carried out for the next few months, TİAK President Hidayet Karaca maintained that TV channels and all the parties involved would not suffer any drawbacks. “Ratings are very important because of course they directly affect the proportion of advertising that a channel gets. This has been a problem that has been lingering over the sector for several years now; but as of Dec. 20 we have decided to cut our ties with AGB, and next week we will get together with advertising agencies and production companies and together decide about the plan for the future,” he said. »

Source : Today’s Zaman 

« 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

« 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