Turkish soap operas are still popular in the Arab world, but political pressure made certain Egyptian TV channels stop broadcasting them in protest of Turkey's stance against the Egyptian military coup. “We have not felt the need to make any change in our broadcasting strategy for the Turkish dramas because Arab audiences still want to watch them,” Mazen Hayek, the official spokesman for the Middle Eastern Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) told Today's Zaman.
The popularity of Turkish soap operas began to grow shortly after they appeared on Arab TV channels in 2007. Since then, Turkish soaps like the famous series “Noor” (“Gumus”), “Forbidden Love” (“Aşk-ı Memnu”) and “1001 Nights” (“Binbir Gece”) have flooded the Arab world with exposure to a so-called more modern and Westernized Turkish culture, which most of the Arab audience seems to admire. Needless to say, the exported soap operas have long been an example of Turkey's soft power in the region.
However, the Turkish government and Arab countries like Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have become opponents in their foreign policies regarding the recent military intervention in Egyptian politics. While Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) have supported the Muslim Brotherhood and deposed President Mohammed Morsi, almost all the Arab countries have openly backed the Egyptian coup d'état. Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Kuwait openly showed their appreciation of the coup and the interim government by pledging at least $5 billion, $3 billion and $4 billion respectively. In response to Turkey's opposition, some groups in the Arab media launched a boycott of Turkish soap operas, but could not find public support for the move.
Most of the Egyptian and international TV channels did not cancel any Turkish serials in their broadcasting schedules simply because of the public demand for them. Egyptian Capital Broadcasting Center (CBC) premiered two new Turkish soaps, “Lale Devri” or “The Tulip Age,” which will be called “Lara” and the series “Karadayı,” about two weeks ago. Similarly, MBC, which first introduced Turkish soap operas to the Arab world and has the biggest share in broadcasting them today, did not make any change to their approach to the Turkish soaps after the Egyptian military coup.
Underlining that their broadcasting strategy is determined in accordance with audience preferences and ratings, not governments' political stances, Mr. Hayek also stated that they have not faced any government ban of their broadcastings in Egypt, so far.
The Orbit Showtime Network (OSN) is another private, UAE-based TV channel that broadcasts Turkish soaps all over the Arab region. The popular “Hareem al Sultan” (“Muhteşem Yüzyil” or “Magnificent Century”) and “Asmaituha Fariha” (“Asmaytoha Fariha”) are still featured on OSN's schedule, too.
Turkish distributors of the soap operas don't see any major threat related to the recent unrest in Egypt for their businesses in the long term, either.
Turkish ITV-Intermedya, which works with Arab TV distribution companies, holds the rights to the famous Turkish series “Love is in the Air” (“Yer Gök Aşk”), “The Tulip Age” (“Lale Devri”) and “The Compromise” (“Araf Zamanı”). The head of ITV-Intermedia, Ahmet Ziyalar, said that they not only don't expect any decrease in demand for Turkish dramas in the Arab world, they foresee a 10 percent increase in business volume in the coming years, which has already reached $150 million.
The owner of the Global Agency, which has the distribution rights to the much-loved “Magnificent Century” (“Muhteşem Yüzyil”), “Love at First Sight” (“Aşk Emek İster”) and “The Blossoms in My Heart” (“Kalbim Dört Mevsim”), Izzet Pinto, said that they have already made deals with the companies that do the secondary distribution of the series in the Arab region and he does not expect the cancellation of any of those deals.
The boycott against Turkish soaps was started by the Egyptian Radio and Television Union (ERTU) when the head of ERTU, Shokry Abu Emera, who signed protocols that provided rights to Egyptian TV channels to feature Turkish series, postponed their broadcast after Turkey's explicitly sharp stance against the military coup d'état that unseated Morsi. The Egyptian Creativity Front, Egyptian Cinema Syndicate and the Association of Arab Writers, which consists of a number of Arab poets, filmmakers, intellectuals and writers called on the TV channels and the public to support national productions and protest Turkish soaps.
Mossad Fouda, the head of Egyptian Cinema Syndicate stated that even once the political impasse is resolved, Turkish soap operas will not be promoted as before and will not receive the mass attention they once enjoyed. Plus, the Arab writer Mohamed El-Gheity referred to the boycott as a national duty in his statements.
After all, the Egyptian TV channels Al-Nahar and Al-Hayat and UAE-based DUBAI TV and ADTV stopped broadcasting Turkish soaps, reports say.
"Our decision is non-binding on other satellite channels, but we hope to see all Egyptian channels take the same decision to convey a strong message to the Turkish government," Egypt's Al-Nahar channel said in a statement.
CihanGüncelleme Tarihi: 21 Ağustos 2013, 11:26