« 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. »